We Were Liars
We Were Liars
E. Lockhart
ISBN 9780385741262
Delacorte/Random House, 2014.
5 stars
Keywords: family intergenerational lockhart mystery new-england romance we-were-liars

We Were Liars
by E. Lockhart

E. Lockhart's (The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks) spectacular plotting and character delineation build to an ending that will hit readers like a tidal wave.

The author examines where one has come from, who one wishes to be, and where these two collide. As Granddad explains, "We Sinclairs are a grand, old family.... Our traditions and values form the bedrock on which future generations stand." Granddad went to Harvard, inherited wealth and multiplied it. His "precious" Cadence is the first grandchild. As the novel opens, Cadence recalls the June of what she calls "summer fifteen," when her father drove away in the Mercedes "to some woman he loved more than us." She takes refuge on Granddad's island off the coast of Massachusetts, with her cousins Mirren and Johnny and his best friend, Gat. They are the Liars of the title. Gat sees the disparity between rich and poor, the injustice in the world. That summer, the summer Cadence is 15, she and Gat fall in love. Where she is pale and blonde and accepting, Gat is dark and exotic and questioning. Granddad does not approve. That summer, Cadence has an accident. Something terrible has happened, but she cannot remember what.

This is a love story as much as it is a psychological mystery. The true genius of Lockhart's plotting comes with the second reading, when we see that the clues were there, just below the surface of the placid island waters. The Liars must face the truth in order to heal. Astonishing.

This review first appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers.
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