*Warning: this review may contain spoilers.*
A beautiful and distinguished family. A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies. True love. The truth.
We Were Liars is a book that has had a presence on my TBR pile for a year now, and although I have had this colossal desire to read it for all that time, I found that I never could. There were many occasions where I would pick it up, read the first page, then slide it back into its dusty spot on the book case. And this happened many times, until the High Summer Readathon where I decide to finally dive into it.
We Were Liars is not an intimidating read by any means; being only 225 pages, I knew it would be a quick read, especially since it is a contemporary novel. However, the cause of my hesitation was the hype around this book and it’s “unbelievably shocking” plot twist that every reader was raving about. Personally, I adore a good plot twist, and so that was not so much the deterrent. The deterrent was the audience reaction. I was worried to read this book incase it, and it’s marvelous revelation, failed to deserve the hype surrounding it, leaving me with one of those pesky “unpopular opinions” that people love doing tags about. However, my worry was for nothing as I absolutely adored We Were Liars.
Firstly, the writing style is rather unique as it comes across as quite declarative, as if every line is a definitive, inarguable, truth. But, the use of figurative language alongside the narrative displays a great uncertainty for the main protagonist, Cady. When these components are coupled together, it is a subtle way of indicating that Cady knows the truth, the truth she struggles to remember, all along. Whether intentional or not, it is quite indicative of the Lockhart’s skill as a writer.
Furthermore, Lockhart represented Cady’s mental anguish through a conceit which described it as if it was a physical pain. Making it easier for readers to relate to, as not everyone understands mental illness, but everyone can understand physical injuries. One of the best examples is only 30 pages in and reads “When blood dripped on my bare feet or poured over the book I was reading…he wrapped my wrists in white gauze…”. I adore this metaphor as it conveys how Gat cared for Cady, gave her a shoulder to cry on and helped her wounds heal.
Moreover, juxtaposed statements feature prominently throughout the beginning of the novel. For example, “young and ancient”, which not only displays her youth and naivety, but also the feeling of limitless that comes with being in love. Also, the rule of three is a key theme throughout. With the three sisters, the three houses, and the three Liars (besides Cady). Even Cady’s imagined fairy tales feature the rule of three as the King always has three daughters, all of which differ in some regard.
Lockhart’s attention to detail within her own writing is marvelous. I love how she uses the language devices we are typically taught to appreciate in school, and applies them in such an effective manner throughout the novel.
Towards the end, one line reads “I like a twist of meaning.” and although it suits Cady’s character well, I believe this line may be from Lockhart’s perspective as well. Lockhart certainly has a style of writing that would be difficult to forget, and I will most likely find myself sinking back into this novel purely for that reason.
The essence of this novel is the Sinclair family: the granddad, the aunties, the littles and the Liars. The entire story revolves around family values, prejudice within the family, future expectations and their wealth. Having such a universal theme as the main subject matter within the novel ensures that the audience can relate to some capacity. And it is quite a hard hitting focus that certainly dominates most of Cady’s thoughts.
Throughout the novel Cady grows as an individual as she grows away from the family entity. For the entire novel, Cady attempts to discover the truth that her family members are hiding, and it is done so spectacularly. The truth Cady seeks stares you right in the face, all the way through the novel – all you have to do is notice it. However, that can be difficult when you do not know what to look for, and is why the plot twist is so shockingly brilliant. I had my suspicions of what the plot twist may be, and although I was mostly correct in my assumptions, I still found myself sobbing when the revelation came to light.
Lockhart crafts an atmosphere of mystery and deception, which lasts throughout the novel until the truth is revealed and you exhale a massive sigh of relief and uncertainty as you question what will happen next. I found myself under constant suspense as I waited to see if my predictions were correct. Also, I was pleasantly surprised with how engaged I became within this novel, as I legitimately did not want to put it down; and even when the novel was closed, it refused to leave my mind.
We Were Liars breathes new life into the contemporary genre. I never considered contemporary as a genre I could confidently declare my love for, however, We Were Liars has altered my perspective. I am thrilled that I finally got to read this novel and enjoyed it as much as I did. I rewarded this book 4/5 stars on Goodreads, however, Goodreads does not allow for half stars, so the rating should in fact be 4.5/5.
Have you read We Were Liars? Leave your thoughts down below!