Friday, November 21, 2014

"We Were Liars": Dark, Mysterious and Incredibly Addictive

I waited almost two months to get E. Lockhart's highly touted YA book "We Were Liars" from the library.  When I finally brought it home, and cracked open the cover, I couldn't get up until I finished. I closed the book after the shocking ending and still couldn't believe it.  When I picked my girls up from school that day, my thoughts about the book still churned around in my head and my older daughter got worried.  "Are you okay Mommy?" I replied, "I just can't believe how the book I just finished ended."  She asked me what happened, but I didn't want to tell her because it's a surprise and you never want to solve the mystery before someone else has the opportunity to discover it on her own.

"We Were Liars" revolves around the privileged, cashmere sweater, overly wealthy Sinclair family who own a private island called Beechwood off the coast of Massachusetts. Parallels abound between King Lear and the grandfather who rules the island wielding control over his three useless and ungrateful daughters who drink too much, can't hold onto love and can't hold down jobs.  They all fight to win their father's approval to secure their inheritance.  Stuck in the middle of the sister rivalries are the oldest grandchildren who are nicknamed the liars, Cadence (Cady), Mirren, Johnny and in summer 8 they are joined by a sorta step brother / step cousin, Gat who plays the role of Heathcliff from "Wuthering Heights", the dark, penetrating outsider who lacks the approval of the patriarch of the wealthy family.  Gat and Cady form an unbreakable and somewhat forbidden love connection.  The liars entertain themselves on the island while their moms bicker over money and what they are owed by the grandfather.

And then, in summer 15, things get a bit cray cray.  Cadence washes up on the beach in her underwear with a case of amnesia and wicked migraines.  The next summer, she is forbidden to return to Beechwood without reason since the doctors want her to remember the awful events of summer 15 on her own.  She struggles with depression and claims that her new boyfriend is percocet.  She fruitlessly reaches out to her fellow liars.  When she turns 17, she is allowed to return to Beechwood and she starts to remember what really happened summer 15.

Maybe some of you are groaning and eye rolling at the amnesia aspect of the book which seems a bit like a bad subplot in Days of Our Lives, but something about E. Lockhart's edgy style and deft writing works with Cadence's gradual memory recovery.

There is way more to love about this book than to not love.  Even with the time shifts to the past, and the watery characterization of the moms and the littles (the younger grandchildren who form an amorphous clump of people rather than contain their own distinct roles), the storyline makes you want to find out what happened and why so much has changed on the seemingly ideal Beechwood.

"We Were Liars" will make you guess, remember summer beach loves, think about being 15 while parents are busy drinking and talking about life, dream about feeling rebellious and ponder feeling lost and feeling even more lost when the truths about life are slowly revealed.  It's a book worth reading or giving to your favorite YA reader.

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