We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Where to start...perhaps with the back cover (makes sense, right?): the back cover says that this book is a thriller.
Okay, now that THAT is out of the way. I read another book by this author last year, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, which is much beloved by me and many others. And while this book was not my favorite, I am keeping Ms. Lockhart on my list of favorite authors for now, because I really, really, really want her to be there. I really, really, really wanted to love this book. I pushed for my book club to read it. I put it on hold at the library for ages. And I was super excited to hear that it won the Goodreads Choice YA award. I may have even voted for it before I read it (I can't remember if I actually did this, but I wanted to read it that bad). When I popped the first audiobook disc in my CD player, I was all smiles. And they lasted for most of the first disk (1/5 of the book).
The author does a lovely job describing the scenery, the place, the atmosphere. She paints a lovely, perfectly imperfect picture of the old-money family and their perfect exterior. And the kids were real, smart, each different than the others. But here's the thing about reading YA. It's about teenagers. And it's so easy for adults to overwrite teenagers. There's the one end of the spectrum, where the kids are clueless and talk like in text-message lingo or non-stop slang until the reader is left rolling eyes and laughing at the author's overdone juvenile portrayal. And then there's the other end of the spectrum, where the reader is rolling her eyes saying, "Oh come on! I'm a college-educated adult and I don't talk like that!" If an author is going to go this way, they will usually acknowledge it (John Green writes about 'nerds' although I still don't believe he spoke anywhere near the way his characters do when he was a teenager), which Lockhart does to some extent, saying how Gat is so thoughtful and wants to understand, having another character mention how he's always bringing up the patriarchy. I'm not a fan of the smarter-than-adults trope in YA.
But overall, this book was just okay. I wasn't completely shocked by the ending. It kind of fit. It seemed a bit anticlimactic, to be honest. I didn't see it coming. I just wasn't terribly surprised by it, either.
The author had some good things to say about the patriarchy, actually, and how the grandfather's money, manipulations and even his love had formed his daughters into the kind of people they were. I just thought the book could have hit a little harder, dug a little deeper, instead of focusing so much on the mystery of what happened to the protagonist before her accident. I feel like this book had a lot to say, but wasn't quite brave enough to say it all the way.
Recommended for ages 12+
A bit of language and some traumatic events.
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