I just finished E. Lockhart’s gripping YA novel We Were Liars last night. This was another book that was on my 2015 list that I just hadn’t gotten around to reading during the year. I didn’t realize until I picked up this book that Lockhart also wrote The Boyfriend List series. I read the first title in the series when I was in middle school, and I really enjoyed it. Well I can tell you that this novel, though also in the young adult genre, is a huge departure from the other series.
The main character is Cadence Sinclair Eastman, a teenage girl from a very wealthy family. She spends her summers on a private island off of Martha’s Vineyard with her cousins and a family friend for whom she falls in love with. The background plays out like a fantasy-esque cliche, a wealthy but out of touch grandfather, three spoiled daughters all worried about their inheritance and righteous grandchildren, the scene is even completed with five golden retrievers.
The summer that Cadence (often called Cady) turns fifteen, she falls in love with the dark Indian boy without a wealthy background that tags along with her cousin Johnny. During the summer she also is involved in an accident. She cannot remember the details, but as a result she has horrible migraines and her beloved cousins, ‘the liars’, disappear from her life. She returns to the island after a summer away and searches for answers.
I don’t want to giveaway the twist ending, so I’ll try to discuss this without spoiling it, but no promises. The twist is heart wrenching and brings together a lot of questions that don’t get answered. I personally needed a more realistic backdrop, the grandfather and three daughters are very flat as characters. I assumed they wouldn’t be important, in YA parents are often just a backdrop, but in this novel they play an integral role and I need to know more about them. I also felt that with such a big twist, she left out serious ramifications that I felt like had to come with it (am I being vague enough?).
Lockhart jumps back and forth in fantasy and in real life, which can be confusing to the reader. She often throws in a chapter structured like a fairy tale (often a loose interpretation of King Lear), which I liked but she did it a little too much in my opinion. She had great detail in the early parts of the novel, but as the plot thickened her detail dropped. I just wanted more of this one.