Bryn’s Books: “We Were Liars”


Credit: Elizabeth Zhong

In the latest installment of “Bryn’s Books,” junior guest writer Bryn Leonard reviews “We Were Liars” and details the most prominent factors of the novel.

“Welcome to the beautiful Sinclair family. No one is a criminal. No one is an addict. No one is a failure.”

“We Were Liars,” by E. Lockhart, tells the story of the Sinclair family: a wealthy, white and preppy family that owns a private island off the coast of Massachusetts. Every summer, the grandparents, children and grandchildren come together to the island for a family reunion. They seem to be the perfect family with their luxurious houses, blonde-haired and blue-eyed grandchildren and golden retrievers. However, one summer on the island, 15-year-old Cadence suffers from an unknown head injury and endures memory loss. The dark and morbid secrets of the Sinclair family are uncovered two years later in this story of betrayal, love, family and lies.

Cadence Sinclair Eastman, daughter of Penny Sinclair and grandchild of Harris and Tipper Sinclair, is one of “The Liars”: a group of older Sinclair cousins consisting of Mirren, Johnny and their friend Gat. After the accident, Cadence spirals into depression and becomes addicted to Percocet and flunks school. While bedridden at home, she attempts to email The Liars for solace and an accurate explanation of what happened the night of the accident, but they ignore her. When she is 17, Cadence returns to the island to see her cousins and search for answers. While startled by the new houses on the island and new tensions that ravage her family, her memory slowly comes back to her, and she discovers what really happened on that night of the accident.

Written in the first-person point of view from an unreliable narrator, Cadence struggles to recall her past. Her story jumps between the present, when she is 17, and to two years in the past, when the incident occurred. Lockhart uses dark and gory writing to describe the emotional and physical pain that Cadence endures and Cadence’s recovery and struggle to discover answers with hauntingly beautiful narrations. The novel is fast-paced, with each chapter digging deeper into the intricate plot and unpredictable turn of events that led me to read the entire book in one sitting.

“We Were Liars” explores the thought-provoking theme of the impact of wealth and privilege on a family, and how the consequences of money can strain familial relationships. As perfect as they seem, corruption and greed infiltrate the Sinclair family in order to preserve their upper-class privileges and capital. Their intense yearning for supremacy is the leading cause of endangering Cadence and the rest of The Liars.

I have no criticisms of the novel. I enjoyed every bit of it, from the first to the last sentence. I recommend “We Were Liars” for those who appreciate having an unreliable and unstable narrator, a swiftly paced plot and unforgettable endings.

Bryn’s rating: 5/5