Review Blog

Nov 17 2014

We Were Liars By Emily Lockhart

cover image

Allen & Unwin, 2014. ISBN 9781760111069
(Age: 14+) Highly recommended. This well written page turner chronicles a distinguished family, the Sinclairs, from the point of view of Cadence Sinclair Eastman. The 'lies', skilfully rendered from the very first page continue through to the unexpected and disturbing revelations in the ending.
Cadence's voice is imaginative in its very compelling turn of phrase that can be both shocking and unexpected. It is difficult at times to determine whether Cadence is lying, hallucinating, or mentally unwell:
'My father put a last suitcase into the backseat of the Mercedes (he was leaving Mummy with only the Saab) and started the engine. Then he pulled out a hand gun and shot 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.'
Cadence unveils the joys and sorrows that befall the Sinclair family as they pass their summers on a private island (Beechwood Island) in Massachusetts. Cadence, Johnny, Mirren, and Gat refer to themselves as 'the liars' and as their story develops Cadence tries to fill the two year gap in her memory caused by an injury she cannot recall.
This work is highly recommended as not only a great read but also as a literary text. The author has invited opportunities to discuss and compare her novel with Wuthering Heights,King Lear, and fairy tales involving daughters. In the novel Cadence states 'I do not suffer fools', yet the book leaves the reader struggling to process the consequences of a tragedy derived from a foolish act and this will provoke a range of perspectives and opinions in the reader.
The E. Lockhart website provides links to support materials, a video of Emily reading the opening to the book, and a tumblr page of images.
Linda Guthrie

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