“We Were Liars” by E. Lockhart


E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars is a young-adult mystery novel. Every review of it mentions its twist of an ending (see, and now this one has, too). As I read, there were many times I thought I knew exactly what was coming. I didn’t.

The book is narrated by Cadence Sinclair, a privileged girl who spends her summers on her family’s private island off Martha’s Vineyard.

Welcome to the beautiful Sinclair family.
No one is a criminal.
No one is an addict.
No one is a failure.
The Sinclairs are athletic, tall, and handsome. We are old-money Democrats. Our smiles are wide, our chins square, and our tennis serves aggressive.

The novel moves back and forth in time, but does a good job of grounding the reader in the when. We know immediately that Cadence had an accident, and the rest of the book is both Cadence and the reader piecing together what happened. My theories changed as I went along, and I dreaded being right. But hats off to Lockhart. All my guesses were wrong, and the answer not only surprised me, but held up supported by all that had gone before. My one tiny quibble was the absence of an explanation about the name “Liars” for Cadence and her cousins.

In any case, it’s a heck of an ending, and a thumping good read, with some nice meditations on white privilege to make it more substantial that just a beach read.

4 Responses to ““We Were Liars” by E. Lockhart”

  1. Sherry Says:

    The ending wasn’t so much a twist as a shock for me–we’ve had a similar incident, not unite so tragic, in our family in the recent past, so this book was “triggering” for me as they say. I wish I could say it was cathartic, but actually it was more emotionally devastating than anything. Anyway, I agree that it’s a very well written novel.

  2. girldetective Says:

    Sherry, the book was powerful for me even though I didn’t have a connection with it. I can imagine it would be a devastating read if it was close to experience in any way.

  3. Elle Says:

    Thank you so much for reviewing this. I liked your quotation so much that I downloaded it on my e-reader and “had a look” at the first page last night. Here I am, 15 hours later, having finished the book and feeling strangely empty. As for the ending: about a quarter in, I suspected something similar albeit on a smaller scale. Then I forgot about my first hunch completely, so when the end came it took me by surprise. Thanks again - it’s the first time in ages that I finish a book in almost one go (had a few hours of sleep but dreamt about the plot!). The “twist” reminds me a little of Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Peissl - although these are two very different books of course.

  4. girldetective Says:

    Elle, I’m not able to write what the twist reminded me of, as it would give it away. I did like it better than the twist in Special Topics, which I thought was an uneven book. I really appreciated how Liars had meditations on class and money, and personal responsibility, which gave Cadence another dimension beyond the thriller.