We Were Liars is a YA novel by Emily Jenkins, writing under the pen name E. Lockhart. Reading the description on the back of the book tells you very little and because of clever Twitter promotion, be careful what you read about it, we may all be liars.
The novel is about the Sinclairs. A wealthy family where no one has problems. Everything is swept under the rug and the past is not spoken of. When Cadence Sinclair has an accident that leaves her with no memories of what happened, she spends her summer trying to recover all her memories from the time of the accident on her family's private island.
For me, this book has become a go to recommendation in YA, a breath of fresh air amongst the supernatural and fantasy romances that have taken over the shelves. I told people about this book for so long, after hearing about it from YouTuber booksandquills and finally got around to reading it, the first book of the new year.
Speaking of booksandquills, here's her review of the book.
Back to the book's summary, or rather, the description on the book jacket. One of the criticisms I read was about how the book and its readers are simply begging you not to tell the secrets of this book. For some it has come across as pretentious. I feel it ties in nicely with what happens in the book, it's characters emotionally restrained, unable to tell their own secrets, all for the sake of family name.
I loved how this book stayed with me, for days after I could not stop thinking about it. It was the big reveal at the end that got me. In all honesty, I don't read mystery novels. I'm racking my brain trying to think of ones I have read. The Phantom of the Opera is written as a mystery novel, but it is an older style of mystery novel. There are certainly novels with elements of mystery but never full on mystery novels. So perhaps it is little wonder that the ending was a complete surprise for me. (Side note, I like my mysteries not to have proper ending, which is why I love the film Picnic At Hanging Rock so much, but that's another story for another time.) I'm curious now and will have to search to see if anyone caught on to what was really going on. But what was revealed stuck with me, and I almost kicked myself mentally wondering how I did not see it. Certain scenes playing over in my mind and having that "ah HA!" moment of suddenly seeing why things were the way they were. Such a satisfying feeling, I would have hated to have caught on to the end before it happened. This is why this book is worth buying not for the read but for the rereading.
While reading I also kept thinking about how visually this would make a beautiful movie. There are scenes in the novel that are "real", where Cadence is experiencing serious emotions, where she does not want to sweep an issue under the rug, real lighting, gritty imagery. These moments never last. A family member, usually her mother, will tell Cadence to pull it together. That nothing is wrong. These "fake", "unreal" moments, the moments where there are "lies", played out in my mind with dreamy, soft, vintage lighting, like a photo filter that makes something look out of the 60s. The sort of filter where everything looks wonderful and perfect. Perhaps that would be too much, but that's how these scenes played out in my mind. (Okay, that was a weird tangent, but I have to share. Let's be honest, this is not so much a proper review but my experience and impressions of reading this book.)
I gave this book a 4/5 star rating on Good Reads. I really liked this book but I did not love it. I thoroughly enjoyed it and have been recommending it so much in terms of YA to read, that is not supernatural romance or fantasy, since there is so much of that these days,
I'll leave you with an interview with E. Lockhart, speaking about We Were Liars