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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

'We Were Liars' by E. Lockhart

Received from NetGalley

From the BLURB:

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

So, at the beginning of my ARC (received via NetGalley) there’s a note to the reader from Beverly Horowitz, Vice President and Publisher of Delacorte Press. And I think what little Horowitz says about this book and the plot is kinda perfect, and the ideal way to summarise (without really summarising, but more importantly not giving anything away) about this book.

The beautiful Sinclair family on a windswept private island, 
four friends who are unconditionally loyal to 
one another, 
a lot of witty banter, 
and desperate true love.  
Also …  
family secrets, 
hallucinations, 
a terrifying accident, 
and many golden retrievers.

Horowitz goes on to say E. Lockhart’s new young adult novel is “a dazzler. It’s suspenseful, literary and romantic. It’s a modern, mazelike suspense story…” and that’s exactly right.

The Sinclairs are a Kennedy-esque American family; good democrats who can trace their lineage back to the Mayflower. There are three Sinclair daughters who have spawned several cherished Sinclair grandchildren.

Seventeen-year-old Cadence ‘Cady’ Sinclair Eastman is the oldest (and most beloved) Sinclair grandchild. She lives in Vermont with her single mother (her father walking out on the family not so long ago) but in the summer they travel to Beechwood Island. Windmere House is her grandfather’s imposing property, and she looks forward to summer every year when she can return there and reunite with her cousins – Johnny, Mirren, and Gat, the Indian-American son of her aunt’s partner. They are The Liars.

We do not believe in explicit 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. 
It is possible that we enjoy the way people are curious about us.

I became a fan of E. Lockhart after reading her Printz Honor book ‘TheDisreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks’ – an utterly unique and darkly funny young adult novel about a (now) infamous young woman who shakes up the old boy foundations of her boarding school. I thought that book had set a pretty hard benchmark for Lockhart, but I can say with complete confidence that ‘We Were Liars’ comes pretty darn close to surpassing even the brilliance of that book.

Told with lashings of King Lear and twisted fairytales, ‘We Were Liars’ is a haunting novel that touches on greed, memories and the bonds of friendship. It’s a little bit beautiful and a little bit terrifying all at once.  

I changed the course of her life. I changed the fate of the family. The Liars and I.

And the writing is superb. Some of Lockhart’s sentences are downright luscious and lyrical, perfectly capturing the magnificence of youth and especially first love;

We looked at the sky. So many stars, it seemed like a celebration, a grand, illicit party the galaxy was holding after the humans had been put to bed. 
Lockhart’s story is so immersive and guttural – it’s a tall order asking readers to go on this journey with Cady, but it’s also an immensely readable page-turner.

I also loved that this is a book that praises youth and treats it with such tenderness. Cady and Gat especially feel so strongly for one another, and though they’re young Lockhart doesn’t treat them as anything other than soulmates – understanding perfectly how important this time is for young people, and how all those ‘firsts’ so imprint on them. I also appreciated that Lockhart gave shout-outs to some of her favourite YA authors, including Jaclyn Moriarty (an author Cadence has been reading all summer).

This is easily a favourite book of 2014.
haunting and visceral,
full of poignancy and sugary sweetness
everyone should read this.

5/5

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