Reviews for We Were Liars
Booklist Reviews 2014 January #1
*Starred Review* Cadence Sinclair Eastman is the oldest grandchild of a preeminent family. The Sinclairs have the height, the blondness, and the money to distinguish them, as well as a private island off the coast of Massachusetts called Beechwood. Harris, the family patriarch, has three daughters: Bess, Carrie, and Penny, who is Cadence's mother. And then there is the next generation, "the Liars": Cadence; Johnny, the first grandson; Mirren, sweet and curious; and outsider Gat, an Indian boy and the nephew of Carrie's boyfriend. Cadence, Johnny, Mirren, and Gat are a unit, especially during "summer 15," the phrase they use to mark their fifteenth year on Beechwood--the summer that Cady and Gat fall in love. When Lockhart's mysterious, haunting novel opens, readers learn that Cady, during this summer, has been involved in a mysterious accident, in which she sustained a blow to the head, and now suffers from debilitating migraines and memory loss. She doesn't return to Beechwood until summer 17, when she recovers snippets of memory, and secrets and lies--as well as issues of guilt and blame, love and truth--all come into play. Throughout the narrative, Lockhart weaves in additional fairy tales, mostly about three beautiful daughters, a king, and misfortune. Surprising, thrilling, and beautifully executed in spare, precise, and lyrical prose, Lockhart spins a tragic family drama, the roots of which go back generations. And the ending? Shhhh. Not telling. (But it's a doozy).HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Lockhart's latest is unlike anything she's done before. With a Printz Honor to back her, plus a major marketing campaign--and a promotional quote from John Green--this is poised to be big. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2014 Fall
Narrator Cady begins the book by divulging an unspecified accident that happened during her fifteenth summer on her family's private island that left her with debilitating migraines and memory loss. What follows is a taut psychological mystery marked by an air of uneasy disorientation. The ultimate reveal is shocking both for its tragedy and for the how-could-I-have-not-suspected-that? feeling it leaves us with.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2014 #3
Cadence Sinclair Eastman, eldest grandchild in a Kennedy-esque clan, narrates this story about her wealthy family, one that's rife with secrets and is broken under the hood. Cady begins the book by divulging an unspecified accident that happened during her fifteenth summer on the family's private island -- where the heart of this novel takes place -- that left her with debilitating migraines and memory loss. Although her mother demands perpetual stoicism ("Be normal…Right now…Because you are. Because you can be"), Cady takes comfort from her close relationships with her cousins Johnny and Mirren and from her sweet, tentative romance with family friend Gat. As the intriguing, atmospheric story goes on, it becomes increasingly clear that the protagonist, beautiful and emotionally fragile, is also an unreliable narrator, and what follows is a taut psychological mystery marked by an air of uneasy disorientation. And this angst snowballs, even (especially) as pieces of that fifteenth summer begin to fit together. The ultimate reveal is shocking both for its tragedy and for the[Wed Oct 22 02:47:21 2014] enhancedContent.pl: Wide character in print at E:\websites\aquabrowser\IMCPL\app\site\enhancedContent.pl line 249.
how-could-I-have-not-suspected-that? feeling it leaves us with. But we didn't, which is Lockhart's commendable triumph. katrina hedeen Copyright 2014 Horn Book Magazine.
Kirkus Reviews 2014 April #1
A devastating tale of greed and secrets springs from the summer that tore Cady's life apart. Cady Sinclair's family uses its inherited wealth to ensure that each successive generation is blond, beautiful and powerful. Reunited each summer by the family patriarch on his private island, his three adult daughters and various grandchildren lead charmed, fairy-tale lives (an idea reinforced by the periodic inclusions of Cady's reworkings of fairy tales to tell the Sinclair family story). But this is no sanitized, modern Disney fairy tale; this is Cinderella with her stepsisters' slashed heels in bloody glass slippers. Cady's fairy-tale retellings are dark, as is the personal tragedy that has led to her examination of the skeletons in the Sinclair castle's closets; its rent turns out to be extracted in personal sacrifices. Brilliantly, Lockhart resists simply crucifying the Sinclairs, which might make the family's foreshadowed tragedy predictable or even satisfying. Instead, she humanizes them (and their painful contradictions) by including nostalgic images that showcase the love shared among Cady, her two cousins closest in age, and Gat, the Heathcliff-esque figure she has always loved. Though increasingly disenchanted with the Sinclair legacy of self-absorption, the four believe family redemption is possible—if they have the courage to act. Their sincere hopes and foolish naïveté make the teens' desperate, grand gesture all that much more tragic. Riveting, brutal and beautifully told. (Fiction. 14 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2014 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2014 February #3
Cadence Sinclair Eastman, heiress to a fortune her grandfather amassed "doing business I never bothered to understand," is the highly unreliable narrator of this searing story from National Book Award finalist Lockhart (The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks), which begins during her 15th summer when she suffers a head injury on the private island Granddad owns off Cape Cod. Cady vacations on Beechwood every year with her mother, two aunts, and--most importantly--the other liars of the title: cousins Mirren and Johnny, and Gat Patil, the nephew of Aunt Carrie's longtime boyfriend. The book unfolds two summers later, with Cadence trying to piece together the memories she lost after the accident while up against crippling headaches, a brain that feels "broken in countless medically diagnosed ways," and family members who refuse to speak on the subject (or have been cautioned not to). Lockhart's gimlet-eyed depiction of Yankee privilege is astute; the Sinclairs are bigoted "old-money Democrats" who prize height, blonde hair, athleticism, and possessions above all else. There's enough of a King Lear dynamic going on between Granddad and his three avaricious daughters to distract readers from Lockhart's deft foreshadowing of the novel's principal tragedy, and even that may be saying too much. Lockhart has created a mystery with an ending most readers won't see coming, one so horrific it will prompt some to return immediately to page one to figure out how they missed it. At the center of it is a girl who learns the hardest way of all what family means, and what it means to lose the one that really mattered to you. Ages 12-up. Agent: Elizabeth Kaplan, Elizabeth Kaplan Literary Agency.(May) [Page ]. Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC
School Library Journal Reviews 2014 April
Gr 9 Up--Cadence Sinclair Easton comes from an old-money family, headed by a patriarch who owns a private island off of Cape Cod. Each summer, the extended family gathers at the various houses on the island, and Cadence, her cousins Johnny and Mirren, and friend Gat (the four "Liars"), have been inseparable since age eight. During their fifteenth summer however, Cadence suffers a mysterious accident. She spends the next two years--and the course of the book--in a haze of amnesia, debilitating migraines, and painkillers, trying to piece together just what happened. Lockhart writes in a somewhat sparse style filled with metaphor and jumps from past to present and back again--rather fitting for a main character struggling with a sudden and unexplainable life change. The story, while lightly touching on issues of class and race, more fully focuses on dysfunctional family drama, a heart-wrenching romance between Cadence and Gat, and, ultimately, the suspense of what happened during that fateful summer. The ending is a stunner that will haunt readers for a long time to come.--Jenny Berggren, formerly at New York Public Library [Page 168]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.