We Were Liars is a twisty little YA suspense that has something we all love to see — the rich and useless suffering like everyone else.

We Were Liars is a twisty little YA suspense that has something we all love to see — the rich and useless suffering like everyone else.

While I wasn’t as surprised by the ending as I thought I would be, this one is a pretty twisted little YA suspense, and the author does a good job of maintaining the mystery without making it come out of left field.  While I can’t even tell you what it reminds me of without tipping you off, let’s just say that if you like a world where things aren’t always what they seem, you might give this one a try.  It isn’t Shutter Island, but it does play on the idea that our minds protect us from things we aren’t ready to handle.  Every student who has read it is desperate to talk about it, so it does get people thinking, and it is a fairly fast read.  I managed it in a couple of hours.


 Seventeen year old Cadence, oldest grandchild of the wealthy Sinclair family, returns to her family’s private vacation island two summers after the accident that left her with crippling migraines and a sketchy memory.  Things have changed on the island in those two summers.  Her mother and aunts are no longer pitting the cousins against one another in a bid to win their grandfather’s approval and the family fortune.  The stately home that was the heart of the family has been replaced with a cold modern structure, devoid of any of the warm mementos of Cadence’s childhood.  Her cousins, her closest friends and confidants, stick close to home in one of the family cottages instead of roaming the island and sea as they had done in the past.   She begs them to help her remember exactly what happened, certain that the events of summer fifteen are linked to the changes, but no one wants to talk.  A summer of delicate probing might yield answers, but those truths were kept quiet for a reason, and Cadence might be better off never knowing.  

Rather like The Great Gatsby, this book works to show readers the tarnish on the guilded lives of the rich and aimless.  I have a hard time with beautiful ugly people, so it was difficult for me to connect to Cadence, even when she tried to convince me that she was trying to be better as a human than the rest of her family.  I mostly read it because I knew something terrible would be revealed if I stuck around long enough, and it was.  I figured it out before the big reveal, but I have a knack for that, so I think most readers will get the jolt of surprise from the twist.  The narrative is shattered, like the mind of Cadence, so there are some events that turn up out of order, and the reader has to rearrange their own understanding to accommodate the new knowledge.  I like that, but some readers will find it confusing, especially if they break the reading up over a longer period of time.   I wasn’t quite satisfied by the ending, and I suspect that the author retreated into distant and poetic prose because she didn’t quite know how to end it either, and, well, how do you properly leave a character in Cadence’s situation, anyway.  Overall, I think most readers who like suspense will enjoy this book.  It was a big deal in the book world last year, so the masses like it, and despite your mom telling you that you are a special snowflake, chances are you will agree with the masses.  I think it is a solid for star read, but you might think it is a five.  Just don’t go telling everyone the ending like a bad egg, as a matter of fact, the book jacket encourages you to just lie if anyone asks how it ends.

This book is available in our classroom library and the MHS library.


About queenbook

When the final bell rings, I stash those messy piles of essays and analysis assignments in a desk drawer and I head home to a pile of good books. My kids and dog eat too many chicken nuggets and the house could be neater, but as long as I get my daily read, I guess we are doing all right. When I was twelve and fifteen and eighteen and twenty, I believed I needed to get out there and do those things I had just been reading about, which ended in disaster, tears, a tattoo that scares me every time I catch a glimpse of it in the mirror, and the realization that some of us are meant for action, and some of us are meant to critique the pace of action in a book. I read primarily YA fiction as I have a rather hulking classroom library and a hundred high school readers to engage daily. Nothing makes me happier than coming to school and finding an impatient teenager waiting by my door to turn in a book and get another one just like it. I adore a good zombie, a medieval princess, or girl assassin (I would like them all in one book if you are a writer looking for some inspiration). I add historical mystery to my wish list a year in advance, and you should get out of my way when the next Outlander book comes out. I have an embarrassing fondness for rock star books, but only if they don’t get too trashy and embarrass me. My favorite book of all time is The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. My book boyfriends include Gilbert Blythe, Alonzo Wilder, and Jamie Fraser. They are mine and you can’t have them.

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