We Were Liars is an endearing coming of age story. The Sinclairs are that quintessential patrician family who vacations on an island off Martha’s Vineyard every summer. Cadence Sinclair Easton is suffering from an episode of amnesia related to an accident she was involved in, and We Were Liars is written as a narration of Cadence searching her memories for the events leading up to the accident in hope of discovering answers to questions the family seems unwilling to talk about.
Gat Patil, whose uncle is dating Cadence’s aunt, arrives on the island during Summer Eight. Each summer, the four Liars – Cadence, Gat, and Johnny and Mirren (her two cousins) are inseparable, and Cadence and Gat fall in love in their teen years.
The Sinclair patriarch communicates disapproval that Cadence, his eldest grandchild with lovely blonde hair, would mess around with a brown boy. His comments are effective in making the cerebral Gat feel uncomfortable and an outsider, while Gat’s views on materialism are having a positive influence on Cadence.
As Cadence’s memory returns, consequences from the Sinclair-way of presenting in public a flawless appearance serve as a painful lesson of the internal strife that is taking place within the family.
We Were Liars is a well-told love story that integrates issues of racism and class in a smart way. Although the flashbacks out of sequential chronological order didn’t complement the story, E. Lockhart brilliantly incorporates a literary device by introducing fairy tales in Cadence’s narrative that run parallel to the story she is trying to tell. We Were Liars definitely deserves a place at the top of this summer’s reading list.