We Were Liars | Review

Posted May 8, 2014 by Tara Gold in Review /// 6 Comments

We Were Liars | ReviewWe Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Series: standalone
Published by Delacorte Press on 5/13/2014
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense, YA
Pages: 240
Format: paperback
Source: ARC from NCTE Conference, ARC from NetGalley

They are called The Liars. Cadence, Johnny, Gat, and Mirren spend their summers on the Sinclair family's private island. The island may be beautiful, but Cady is broken and lost. An accident from summer fifteen has left her with questions. Questions about the accident, questions about her family, questions about her memory. Questions about the lies.

As with all E. Lockhart books, I fell in love. And what I loved the most was that this was so different from her other books. The style was similar to her other novels, but the tone was mysterious/suspenseful than her other novels. The title alone sets the tone: lies. What are these lies? Who is lying? And why? The whole marketing campaign for the book has focused on the allure of the lie, with ARC recipients being told to, “lie about this book.”

Lie about the book? Goodness, that makes things difficult for me as a reviewer. Because, honestly, you are better off going into the story knowing as a little as possible. It’s the kind of novel you devour quickly and want to talk about. It’s emotional and horrible and beautiful and haunting and tense and romantic and everything I was hoping for. 

E. Lockhart clearly has a style when it comes to books. Her books always have intelligent, witty female protagonists. Her sentence structure plays with language, and sometimes the prose feels like consciousness. Adjectives become nouns and paragraphs don’t always follow the rules. Most notably, Lockhart’s characters are usually girls who live in very privileged worlds. These are the girls of private schools and private islands. They are the girls living in worlds of unspoken, yet very rigid, rules for behavior. Girls who, ultimately, come of age and recognize how complex structures of race, class, and gender operate in the upper echelons of society. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of We Were Liars was the continued examination of these issues within Cady’s story. Lockhart’s feminist slant is a huge part of why I’m in love with her books.

I can’t really say more than that. I could go ahead and lie to you, but I’ll just tell you to go ahead and read the book for yourself.


Of course it’s an A. It’s E. Lockhart and she’s my favorite! I will note that there has been some minor hype surrounding the book, so it is entirely possible that this will fall short of the hype. But I fully appreciated the way Lockhart let the story unfold, and I’ve always been a fan of her style. This is a short read (225 pages), but one with a lot of punch.

Tara Gold

Tara is a PhD candidate studying education. Her dissertation is on digital book communities as public pedagogy (ask her about it!), though she often takes a break from all of that to read books about oppressive governments and sassy teenagers. In a former life, she was a middle school teacher and middle school librarian. In her future life...well, that's yet to be determined, but it probably involves getting kids jazzed about books or research. In her free time, she drinks a lot of coffee while planning her next grand adventure (there's always something).

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6 responses to “We Were Liars | Review

    • Tara Anderson

      I would definitely start with The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks. It is far and away E. Lockhart’s best novel. If you like her style (she has a very distinct writing style that does not appeal to everyone), the Ruby Oliver quartet is my favorite little contemporary series.

  1. I’ve never read an E. Lockhart book (I know, I know!) but have preordered the We Were Liars audiobook. Glad to see it got an “A!” There has been some hype but I’ll keep my expectations in check.

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