We are liars. We are beautiful and privileged. We are cracked and broken.
A tale of love and romance. A tale of tragedy.
Which are lies? Which is truth? You decide.
I’ll start by saying that this is my favourite book so far of 2016. I couldn’t put it down and stayed up later than I should have to finish reading!
It is narrated by Cadence, a privileged only child whose parents have divorced. She spends her summers on a private, family-owned island with her grandparents, her mother’s sisters and their families. Each sister has a house on the island and the cousins spend long carefree summer days swimming, exploring and relaxing together.
However, Cadence’s idyllic memories of the island are blighted by an accident which happened two years previously. She has no memory of what happened, but is told that she was found alone, unconscious with a head wound. Ever since she has been plagued by severe migraines and has lost control of her once seemingly perfect life.
Cadence was forced to spend last summer with her father, travelling around Europe, so this year is the first time she will be returning to the island after her accident. She is excited to be reunited with her cousins, Mirren and Johnny, and Gat, Johnny’s friend. The group she calls ‘The Liars’.
When she and her mother arrive, Cadence is shocked by the changes that have occurred on the island since her last visit. Her grandfather has completely rebuilt his house – it is now modern and soulless, and Cadence is sad to see that her favourite tree, where she and her cousins used to play, has been cut down.
She soon rekindles her friendship with Mirren, Johnny and Gat, despite having had no communication with them for two years. The cousins have separated themselves off from the rest of the family, eating dinner alone and moving into one of the empty houses, never making contact with the adults.
Cadence’s mother encourages her to spend time with her younger cousins, aunts and grandfather, but she is reluctant. She wants to spend all her time with ‘The Liars’. However, Mirren starts to become ill and some of the things they say, and their behaviour begins to confuse Cadence. Memories about what happened two years previously start to re-emerge in her mind.
As Cadence pieces together what happened the summer of her accident the reader is led through an emotional twist in the tale. I guessed what the twist was, but only because I knew it was meant to be shocking – I don’t know if I would have otherwise.
The end of We Were Liars is full of emotional turmoil and I couldn’t even imagine how I would feel if I were in Cadence’s place. If I were the sort of person who cried at books, I’m sure I would have.
I think We Were Liars is a beautiful, gripping piece of fiction. It definitely has a place on my favourites list and I will be re-reading it in the future. I loved the clever interweaving of idyll and tragedy, proving that the life of the privileged isn’t always as perfect as it seems.
See the world as it is, not as you wish it would be