Every summer, the Sinclair family convene on their family island, near Martha’s Vineyard. Cadence can’t wait to see the Liars, her cousins, again. She missed last summer and there was an accident the year before. An accident that she can’t remember. She hopes, being back there will bring everything back. That the Liars can be together once more.
Welcome to the beautiful Sinclair family.
No one is a criminal.
No one is an addict.
No one is a failure.
We Were Liars is one of those books you can only really appreciate once you’ve got to the end. Most the characters I only sympathised with once I knew what had happened; privileged and self-centred comes to mind. The family is wealthy and known in society. They own a private island and they bicker over who will get the inheritance. They are isolated both by geography and by class.
Grandad is more like Mummy than like me. He’s erased his old life by spending money on a replacement one.
Gat doesn’t quite belong with the cousins. He’s Indian and the story brushes on the issue of casual racism. The Sinclair’s are all blonde and pale, something the grandfather is proud of. Seen through Cadence’s eyes, Gat is an equal, but as the story unfolds, you see not everyone has the same view.
The narrative jumps about and the prose is broken in places, which suits Cadence’s state of mind. Her splitting headaches are felt though her melodramatic descriptions of violence, of blood pouring out.
It’s hard to have heard about this book without knowing here’s a twist coming. I did want to know what happened the night of the accident and that kept me turning the page. I was guessing all the way but was barking up the wrong tree entirely. There’s a turning point when I started to care. How damaged is Cadence? Why won’t anyone tell her what happened? How bad can it be?
I went back and re-read some bits after finishing. They take on so much more meaning in hindsight and the pages are dripping in foreshadow. There’s little things the adults do which are tells. I won’t tell you what books it reminded me of because of spoilers, but there are definitely similar ones out there. Perhaps the ending is more powerful if this is the first of this type you’ve read. Still, the dawning realisation broke my heart.
Book Source: Purchased