Monday, 27 July 2015

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Who doesn’t love a family drama – to read about that is, not necessarily to live it! Meet The Sinclair family. They are wealthy and beautiful and every summer they holiday on their own private island. There are three daughters and all their children ruled over by father and Grandfather Harris Sinclair whom they owe their lifestyles to. 

The Liars are the eldest of the cousins; narrator Cadence, Johnny, Mirren and non-relative Gat. Cadence falls in love with Gat and the four teenagers spend many secluded, fun-filled holidays together, until the events of one summer when they are seventeen changes all of their lives forever. 

From the outside the privileged Sinclairs seem to have it all, but internally they are all struggling with their own problems. Two of the daughters have had marriage breakdowns and live on money from their father. The other is co-habiting with a man her father deems unsuitable and she stands to lose her inheritance. Add to that in-family rivalry over the wealth and legacy of the Sinclairs and it is a boiling pot of emotions. 

Cadence has many issues of her own which makes her narration quite unique. As well as the sass and attitude of a typical teenager, she is very literal in her metaphors. She depicts events such as her heart being cut out or her head being sliced open so vividly in what starts as a regular scene, and yet it is just her imagining of it which can be at first hard to discern from reality. Coupled with her unreliable perceptions of events it adds lots of tension and atmosphere to the story. 

The Sinclairs are quite a messed up bunch and as their secrets are slowly uncovered, the tale becomes positively addictive. There are plenty of mature themes for a seasoned reader to get their teeth into; family scandal, addiction, racism, unrequited love to name but a few! 

Normally I have to feel something for the lead characters. Cadence and her cousins are mostly spoilt and selfish so it's not easy to have good feelings towards them, but strangely that just seems to add to the story with its strong storylines and sometimes sinister undertones. 

For me this YA novel has echoes of the writing styles of Liane Moriarty and Nick Lake with a dash of Helen Walsh’s The Lemon Grove thrown in for good measure. With plenty of surprise twists, We Were Liars is a dark and gripping summer read.

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