We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Reviewed for this blog by Linda, Connecticut State Library/Willimantic Library Services Center

I usually avoid reading books about rich kids, so I would not normally have chosen this one. But between the fact that the book was receiving so much praise, and that I enjoyed The Frankie Landau Banks book, I gave it a go.

Throughout the beginning of the book I felt annoyed with the excess and whininess. It was clear, however, that there was going to be a twist. As I read on, I felt that the twist, whatever it turned out to be, would be what would make or break the book for me, so I read on.

Seems like it took forever to get to the part where things begin to unravel. I had guessed early at one part of the twist – not guessed most shocking part.

The writing style is one that one either loves or hates (apparently). I didn’t mind the occasional prose-y cuts to sentences, or some of the repeated phrases like: “Me, Johnny, Mirren, and Gat. Gat, Mirren, Johnny, and me.” I didn’t mind the “summer 15” and “summer 17” for marking time.

The family dysfunction, siblings fighting over who is going to get what when daddy dies – felt stereotypical.

Lockhart often uses the image of bleeding for deep emotion, which is interesting… but really alarming the first time she uses it. Early in the story her father leaves the family. “He pulled out a handgun and shot me in the chest. I was standing on the lawn and I fell. The bullet hole opened wide and my heart rolled out of my rib cage and down into a flower bed.” An arresting image. Except there is no gun. And nowhere else in the story does the bleeding emotions image come up to speed with that. And the things that happen later are much more worthy of that image.

Ultimately, I don’t think this is a Printz award book. There’s too much that’s unbelievable here – though it’s really difficult to explain that without spoilers. Probably the biggest mistake made by the main character, Cadence Sinclair Eastman, is a mistake I find it close to impossible to believe – even knowing that she was only 15 and was drinking at the time. Really! What reasonably intelligent 15-year-old would make that mistake?!

 

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4 thoughts on “We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

  1. Lisa

    This book was soooo hyped up that I was somewhat underwhelmed when I actually got around to reading it. Also, all the “Danger, unreliable narrator ahead” stuff meant that I spent the whole book waiting for the big reveal. One thing I really liked was all the interstitials about folk tales and fairy tales and the number 3.

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  2. andreaingala Post author

    @Lisa, I completely agree. LOTS of hype made this a bit of a letdown. I do have to give it credit, though, because the writing is just so damn *stylish*. There’s a lengthy discussion of it on the SLJ Printz blog and if you haven’t read through the comments, the contributors there bring up great points about how Cady’s voice works, the forshadowing, etc, etc. I guess what bothers me about it is this: if the story and the writing is believable and engrossing, entertaining and intelligent, I don’t think (as the reader) I should need to be convinced or think too hard about what works and why it works… and this book made me do both of those things. I was *convinced* that the distance in her narration was from the time between the reveal’s actions and her remembering. I was *convinced* that the social class element added texture to the narrative (versus, like Linda said, just reading about rich kids).

    Anyway, that’s a long tangent, but I think you’re right. While it’s not a strong contender for me personally, I do think it’s still in the running.

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  3. Pingback: And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard | CT Mock Printz Book Discussion

  4. Sara Ray

    I ONLY read this book because of the hype. It was just okay for me (and I found all the rich kid experiences to be really annoying and sad). BUT the story does stay with me!

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