We Were Liars book review

Eleanor Thorman, Journalist

We were Liars by E.L Lockhart is the story of a girl named Cadence who travels to Nantucket each summer to meet with her extended family. This changes the summer she turns 15 as she is hospitalized after a tragic accident she has no memory of, causing unbearable migraines. As she tries to put the pieces together, she is met with confusing reactions from her family members and attempts to figure it out for herself. The writing style of the book is easily understandable and makes for a captivating reading experience. If you struggle with reading because you feel as though you never seem to make enough progress, then this book would be a great read for you as they place the chapters close together so its easy to feel as though you’ve made progress. 

My original draw to this book was that I had heard great things about the twist ending that changes your entire view of the story.  The ending was the main pull for why I wanted to read it, but I would advise that you go into the story with little expectations for the end so that it can have its desired effect. Feel free to construct your own theories alongside Cadence, but don’t build up the book’s worth on the ending alone. I thought the ending delivered the twist as it was completely unexpected, I didn’t like the fallout of the discovery, which I will talk about later in the article, but it felt like the ending would have felt much more amplified if it had gone in a slightly different direction. 

On the ending (SPOILERS) – 

The plot twist felt very similar to the end of the Perfectionists series by Sara Shepherd, so if you’ve read and enjoyed it, then this ending will likely sit right with you. 

My problem with the ending was that it felt like they somewhat tarnished Cady’s character arc by keeping Gat, Miren and Johnny for longer than felt realistic. It would have made more sense to have them disappear immediately after she realized they were gone, not give them a tearful goodbye as they swam away. To me, it somewhat undermined what Cady had been gearing up to for the entirety of the book: closure. She is wracked with guilt over feeling like their deaths were her fault, but in reality, there would be no closure. 

For me, it took the book from a (somewhat) realistic nonfiction to complete fiction. It felt as though the author was telling the reader that they were allowed to forgive Cadence, and pity her rather than anger her. This was disappointing because it felt like the author didn’t trust the reader to come to their own conclusions. In reality, life is tricky, it’s messy and devastating, and the readers of such are fully aware of coming to that conclusion. It felt like her apologizing to all of them on the beach and them telling her that it was okay and was a cheap ploy, as this was not actually happening. Therefore, it came across to me that this was simply a manifestation of her own guilt looking to absolve her of responsibility. That, to me, felt like it had promise to be a more inspirational lesson about learning to let grief be healthily processed. This was pushing it down the readers’ throats because it assumed that they would be split on feeling anger or pity towards her and not feel right in their decision. 

This took away the realism of the story as you don’t get the chance to say goodbye or express regret to the dead.  I think that the importance of not giving her the redemption is that either way it was not given, it was simply her trying to find a way to live with her guilt. It felt like this was attempting to trick the reader into thinking that this was real, and should be taken as such. I think that her learning to live with her grief and the responsibility of what would have happened would have provided a more well-rounded character development along with a lesson that staying in the past will not serve you or the dead. I was somewhat disappointed with the ending because I felt like there was more potential.

 I encourage you to read the book for yourself because I think that it was an overall good story and other people are likely to have different opinions from me. The ending can land differently depending on how you interpret it, and there is no one correct way to do so. I did read this in one day so my opinion of each of the characters hadn’t settled properly before I learned how it ended, so that may also play a factor. My opinion is only my interpretation, so if the concept of the book intrigues you then I would advise you to discard this information and allow yourself to form your own opinion.