We Were Liars
Disclaimer: This review first appeared on my Goodreads profile
My full name is Cadence Sinclair Eastman.I live in Burlington, Vermont, with Mummy and three dogs.I am nearly eighteen.I own a well-used library card and not much else, though it is true I live in a grand house full of expensive, useless objects.I used to be blond, but now my hair is black.I used to be strong, but now I am weak.I used to be pretty, but now I look sick.It is true I suffer migraines since my accident.It is true that I do not suffer fools.
It's not often that I am left dumbfounded by a book. By the time you hit your 20s, and you've been reading for years, you think you know every story line, twist and cliffhanger there is to know. You think, after years of reading, there there is absolutely nothing that can surprise you. You think there's nothing that can shock you.
Well, you're wrong.
So very, very wrong.
We Were Liars is not your typical book. It's twisted with secrets, bitterness and a dank, hazy past which you desperately try to understand. It's a lyrical piece of work, the writing poetic and beautiful, the sort of book that, if it impresses you, may very well stay with you for a long time.
Three stars means "I liked it". It's not a bad rating, but it's a rating I use for stories I'm not too sure of. Although I've said it's a great book, it didn't really impress me for the first 70% of it. In fact, I quickly grew bored and irritated with Cadence's petulant whining and woe-is-me act.
Yes, Cadence, you had an accident, you hit your head, whatever, who cares. Must you remind us every five sentences? You come from a rich background and family, excuse me whilst I don't fall over myself with pity and sympathy for you. Those were my thoughts when reading this book.
Of course, now I feel really bloody awful, but you won't understand why until you read the book.
Cadence Sinclair has had an accident.
For two years, she has lived in a state of remembering/not remembering and details of her accident have disappeared. She doesn't know what happened or how, and no one will tell her.
One thing's for certain: she needs to go back to Beechwood Island, the place she had spent all her summers growing up, along with her cousins Jonathon and Mirren and, later, their friend Gat. She's sure that, if she returns to the island, her memory, also, will return.
One night, late in July of summer fifteen, I went swimming at the tiny beach. Alone.
Where were Gat, Johnny and Mirren?
I don't really know.
We had been playing a lot of Scrabble at Red Gate. They were probably there. Or they could have been at Clairmont, listening to the aunts argue and eating beach plum jams on water crackers.
In any case, I went into the water wearing a camisole, bra, and underwear. Apparently I walked down to the beach wearing nothing more. We never found any of my clothes on the sand. No towel, either.
Oy very. This is where it gets tricky. Although I liked reading Cadence's narrative, she has to be the most self-centred, shallow narrator I have ever encountered. Sure, she's confused a lot of the time, she can't remember much of what happened in the past, but the way she handles everything, so dramatically, had me grinding my teeth in irritation.
This is the scene where I rolled my eyes the hardest:
My father put a last suitcase into the back seat of the Mercedes (he was leaving Mummy with only the Saab), and started the engine.
Then he pulled out a handgun and show 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,
Stop. Just stop. It's a painful, sad moment but really?! That's how you're going to handle it? By saying your father shot you in the chest and basically killed you?
I don't understand the drama of it. So many authors have written harsher, more painful scenes than this without being over-dramatic and silly about it. If it happened only once, I could understand, but it didn't. It happened every other page or so.
Cadence could be an incredibly likeable character if she weren't so selfish. She represents #whitegirlproblems and #richgirlproblems to a T. Stop whining. I felt quite bad for her mother.
The other characters, unfortunately, we didn't see much of. They were mentioned as though in passing or in conversation. Most of Cadence's narration is based on memories and what she thinks of them, so you don't really get to know the other characters. Very little is said about them, in general, up until the end where it comes in such a rush, you don't remember half of it anyway.
I absolutely love beach summer novels. School's out, all the friends are together, and plots move more smoothly than if it were based during a school year. So when I saw the words island,summer, secrets I was intrigued.
The setting didn't let me down at all. Beechwood Island, as described, seems beautiful and peaceful, the perfect summer holiday destination. It didn't let me down throughout the book, either, which is always a good point in my book. If the setting becomes disjointed and boring, I lose the feel of the characters.
Insta-love or insta-hate?
Yep. It happens. Insta-love within the first five pages. Bore. Gat, our boy, isn't even interesting. Half the time, I wanted him to shut up and the other half I wanted push him into the ocean. He's one of those characters: do-gooders, in-your-face, presumptuous and a pain in the ass. Frankly, Cadence and Gat deserve each other. They both made me want to gouge my eyes out with their soppyyou are my everything's and I can't live without you's.
Cry me a fucking river.
Overall, three stars. Although I didn't like the narrator or even the other characters, the story was executed so well, it whips you off your feet. The writing was lyrical and poetic and just plain beautiful. A good read that will leave you asking many, many questions at the end.