We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Opening sentence: “Welcome to the beautiful Sinclair family.”
I listened to this on audiobook, and the American narrator, Ariadne Meyers, really helped to capture the tone of this Young Adult book. I’d heard a lot of good things about it, so was intrigued to see why.
But… there’s no other way to say this, I really didn’t like it. It’s not that it was badly written (some parts had an almost poetic quality) or had a terrible storyline, it’s just that the lead character, Cadence Sinclair Eastman, started to grate on me about half way through and by the end, I just couldn’t stand her.
On the face of it, this is quite a simple story told by 17-year old Cadence. She is a member of the old-money Sinclair family, who hold themselves in high-esteem. All the perfect family members have blond hair, trust-funds and a sense of entitlement. She holidays every summer on her grandparents’ private island with the rest of her family, including cousins Johnny and Mirren and Johnny’s friend Gat. Gat, the only non-Sinclair, is of course there to be Cadence’s love interest and shake-up her way of thinking, make her see that her privileged life is exactly that. Although, he is more than happy to spend his holiday on her family’s private island every summer…
The summer Cadence is 15, she has an accident and is found in just her underwear on the beach with a head injury that causes amnesia and regular debilitating migraines. Two years later, she returns to the island to try and discover the truth about her accident and regain her memories.
I found the pace of the first half of the novel slow, a lot of Cadence wondering what happened, but the author never reveals any more details, so it all felt a bit wallowing and repetitive. When the story did start to ramp up in the second half, Cadence had cemented herself as too much of a spoilt, self-absorbed, pretentious character for me to actually really care.
There is a twist to the ending, which made it a tad more interesting, but frankly by that point I was just glad I didn’t have to hear anymore of Cadence’s self-righteous analysis of how the situation had affected her and her alone.
Two points to finish on, first, the book’s title puzzles me, as Cadence refers to herself, Mirren, Johnny and Gat and ‘the liars’ but – unless I missed something – they didn’t particularly lie about anything? Second, there were regular cutaways to mini-fairy stories that Cadence makes up and uses as parables to describe her feelings about certain situations, they literally start, ‘Once upon a time there were 3 sisters…’ and, for me, they were just a saccharine hit too much that didn’t add anything to the overall story. They just felt a little try-hard, forced and annoyed me.
It feel like I’ve been harsh…maybe I wasn’t the target audience, it is YA after all, but I’ve read so many amazing YA books and I know lots of people genuinely adore We Were Liars, so I guess it goes down as one of those opinion-splitting reads. In general, you understand, my opinion on it is quite clear…