Sunday, June 29, 2014

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

E. Lockhart writes one outstanding YA novel after another. In We Were Liars, 17-year-old Cady cannot remember the accident that broke her mental health.

Cady and three other young people reunite every year when their families spend summers on a private island near Martha's Vineyard. They call themselves The Liars. While their parents drink and bicker, the kids are left to their own devices. They spend lazy days on the beach, they eat junk food, play scrabble, and talk about things like how to be a good person.

The year Cady was 15, something awful happened. Her voice is smart and compelling as she struggles to recover her wholeness.
 "Welcome, once again, to the beautiful Sinclair family.
  We believe in outdoor exercise. We believe that time heals. We believe, although we will not say so explicitly, in prescription drugs and the cocktail hour.
  We do not discuss our problems in restaurants. We do not believe in displays of distress. Our upper lips are stiff, and it is possible people are curious about us because we do not show them our hearts."
Underneath her enforced stoicism, Cady's heart remains untamed.

With perfect pacing and plotting, We Were Liars delivers much more than "a series of small astonishments." It's brilliant.

Readalikes (for dysfunctional families in a similar setting): Seating Arrangements (Maggie Shipstead); The Last Summer of the Camperdowns (Elizabeth Kelly).

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