Title: We Were Liars
Publisher & Release Date: Delacorte, May 2014
The Hook: Something happened two summers ago, something Cady doesn’t remember.
The Lowdown (from jacket): “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.
Overall Impressions: “Wow.”
Emily and Julie both read this one and it left us feeling shell-shocked.
We shall now attempt to describe the book without actually telling you anything. We may have already told you everything you need to know, in which case, we simply recommend you read this book. Then make your friends and co-workers read it so you can discuss it with them. You will want to.
“We Were Liars” is a powerful, well-crafted tale about the effects of privilege, an illustration of why having money does not exempt people from human misery. It’s one generation looking at another, falling in line or standing firm. It’s passionate, romantic love clashing with family ties, threaded through with fairy tales. Love can build. It can also destroy. It glosses over ugliness and holds up mirrors.
Once upon a time, a man married, grew rich and had three daughters. The daughters grew, beautiful and special, and they married and had children…
Emily: “I love an unreliable narrator because I love the mind-warping. I love not knowing what you’re getting into.”
Julie: Gorgeous, compact writing. I loved the structure of the book, the patterns, sinking into it, the stories Cady writes as she tries to remember. It stands up just as well on second reading.
Both: Strong, full characters. The family dynamics and how they twist around the four groups. How you’re left wanting more, wondering about the characters’ futures, and yet the story feels complete.
The island so isolated, the family so insulated. Emily noted a similarity to a micro-dystopia.
The cover art and how it looks not quite real; summer but dreamy, foggy, out of focus. Perfect.
Buzzkills: We did differ somewhat on how we felt about the layout of the writing. Some parts looked similar to free verse, which Julie liked and Emily does not generally care for.
The Source: Galleys provided by publisher at an ABA event.
Disclaimer: Neither chocolate nor a private island was provided by the publisher in exchange for this review.