|It actually pulls off a photo cover. (Source: Goodreads)|
Author: E. Lockhart
Genre: Literary Fiction/YA Contemporary (? - it's a weird book)
Pages: 225 (paperback)
Source: Local library
We Were Liars is a strange book. It's very ~literary~, i.e. nothing happens for a very long time and you don't relate to the characters, but the writing is beautiful - sometimes pretentiously so. The narrator is unreliable and describes emotions like this, which is actually kinda cool:
'Then 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. Blood gushed rhythmically from my open wound,
then from my eyes,
my mouth.It tasted like salt and failure. The bright red shame of being unloved soaked the grass in front of our house, the bricks of the path, the steps of the porch. My heart spasmed among the peonies like a trout.'
'Silence is a protective coating over pain.' This was her family's approach to dealing with problems, i.e. to just not talk about it; she loves Gat, her cousin's Indian friend, because he believes wounds should be looked after and talked about.
While the writing was for the most part very nice, it did annoy me how the narrator kept describing people like 'She is sugar, curiosity and rain' and 'He was contemplation and enthusiasm, ambition and strong coffee'. What does that even mean?
At the moment I'm looking through Goodreads Quotes to find excerpts (don't go there if you don't want spoilers) and oh boy there are definitely things I did not get the meaning of when I read them before knowing the twist. Like 'Be normal, now. Right now. Because you are. Because you can be.' and 'This island is ours. Here, in some way, we are young forever.' and 'Just think before you complain about stuff other people would love to have.'
I agree with Publishers Weekly's comment: 'it will prompt some to return immediately to page one to figure out how they missed it.'
I can't say much because really the whole point of this book is in the twist ending, so I'll just say that it's about a girl from a very rich and privately troubled family struggling over the inheritance returning to their private island to try and figure out, despite her amnesia, what really happened two summers ago.
It can be a bit of a chore to read for the first, well, 70% of it, but if you're going to put in the effort to start it, make sure you get to the end because that's when all the payoff is. It ramps up a lot towards the end.
I give it 3/5 stars; 3 stars for the beautiful writing, the twist and the fact that it did manage to make me cry in the end even though I didn't think I was particularly attached to the characters, and 2 knocked off because it's definitely a trudge for the first part and doesn't have much in the way of plot or character development until you realise she has amnesia about that summer and then it gets a bit suspenseful as you wonder what actually happened.