Beechwood, a private island near Martha’s Vineyard is where the tall, beautiful and rich Sinclair family flocks to every summer. The patriarch, Harris, both inhabits and owns the island, and is often joined by his three daughters, Carrie, Bess and Penny (the Aunts), and their children. The older grandchildren, Cadence, Mirren, Johnny, and Gat, a family friend, are dubbed the Liars.
We Were Liars begins with Cadence detailing her summers eight through fifteen, carefree in nature, drinking up all the island has to offer before returning to their normal lives. She paints a picture of a notable family, privileged and superior. During summer fourteen, Cadence becomes enthralled by Gat, with his exotic looks and quick mind.
Gat, however, isn’t impressed with the ‘standing’ of the family, pointing out how privileged and secure the Sinclair family are, even though they are no more deserving than himself. Seeing the world differently, he wants to help the underprivileged, and speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. Falling in love with Gat, Cadence details his every movement as though it were a charm specifically constructed for her.
Things take a turn for the worse when Cadence suffers an accident under unusual circumstances. It leaves her with amnesia, and suffering from migraines for which she is heavily medicated. With no clear explanation of what happened, and her privileged family no support, Cadence is left attempting to piece together the puzzle with her Liar compatriots.
The haunting fairy tales she writes draws a parallel to her reality and gives the reader an idea of how unstable and broken the Sinclair clan really is. Cadence finally sees them for what they are. As her memory slowly surfaces, The Liars help her understand what had really happened two years prior.
E. Lockhart weaves a spectacular and cunning tale that centres on family dynamics, the consequences of being privileged and the power that comes with losing one’s innocence. A well-crafted book drawing a fine line between beauty and foulness. A gripping read from page one, with plenty of unexpected twists and turns, I would happily recommend this book, as it left me feeling satisfyingly horrified and despairing – but in the best way!
If you love a book with deeply written characters, and unexpected twists and turns that’ll have you on the edge of your seat, be sure to also check out Into the Water by Paula Hawkins, and Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.