So I happen to know a ton of Goodreads friends and real life friends who went ga-ga over this book. I had a friend that reads about 12 books a year make it a point to talk up this book to me every time she saw me. I was reluctant since it was getting a lot of buzz and most buzz-worthy books and I hate do not see eye to eye with each other. When we do, it is of course glorious and I want to hug the book and read it until my eyes blur. But man, when I don't like it and/or hate the characters, the whole thing becomes a straight up hate read. I only finished this book to make sure the "twist" I guessed at a few chapters in was right. I was right.
This was the most navel gazing book I have read at some time. Rich is bad and we need to give more to others, and also maybe not do that, I don't know, the book went from one extreme to another.
I believe that the main character, Cadence (Cady) Sinclair Eastman, is running toe to toe with the character of Holden Caulfield (The Cather in the Rye) as most annoying teen character in a book. There are some real similarities between both characters and the two books especially with regards to the whole unreliable narrator gimmick. FYI, most of those don't really work since readers can clue in on certain things, and also it's kind of aggravating to read.
"We Were Liars" is Cady's tale of her family's woes. Cady is the only daughter and the eldest Sinclair grandchild. Her two other cousins (Mirren and Johnny) and a family friend (Gat) make of the Liars that get referenced in the title.
Cady's mother is one of three daughters that are left of the Sinclair family and you pretty much get to read a lot about how the three sisters are just being so terribly put upon by their rich and also grieving father. Seriously though, this book should just have been titled, rich white people problems. Cause that's all it really was. I could not take anything seriously at all with what Cady spells out. The whole defining incident that led to the overall book's mystery was a hot mess of a thing. At least even Cady (through Lockhart maybe realizing that the whole thing fell apart towards the end) realizes how dramatic and stupid things were (the only reason why I gave this one of 2 stars).
The Sinclair family has a very tough life being rich (there are numerous allusions to trust funds) and the fact that most of the family does not have to work and or they do work, but it's definitely not going to pay their significant bills. After Cady's grandmother dies the whole family kind splinters, but does it best to not bring up sad and awful things. Because that is what a Sinclair does. Also I hope you enjoy reading that line throughout the book.
The family gets together every summer on their private island and of course the year after the grandmother dies, the grandfather turns into a tyrant. There are allusions made to leaving money to one child or another, or to one grandchild or another, and if one does what he doesn't want to happen, he threatens to cut people off. I swear this whole thing is a Wes Anderson film in book form.
Cady starts to fall for family friend Gat (seriously his name is terrible) and starts to think about love and how sheltered and oblivious her family is. Gat of course starts to lecture Mirren, Johnny, and Cady about their family's largess like it's something they should deal with and I know that a lot of readers loved Gat, but I found him just as annoying as Cady.
When an incident leaves Cady sick and reeling, she is left bereft since her liars don't try to talk to her as she recuperates. So pretty much most of the book is Cady trying to get permission to go back to the family's island and see her "liars" again and fix her broken family. She is annoyed at her mother's hovering and concerns and starts to give away her things. She dyes her hair black. She is mysterious (eyeroll).
Cady is thoughtless and looks at her mother, aunts, and even her grandfather with contempt. Hell I think at one point she disparages some of the family's dogs that are apparently not that smart. She is also overly dramatic (at least that's how Lockhart writes her) and I was really tired of reading all of the freaking metaphors and adjectives that littered this book when Cady is telling your her innermost thoughts and feelings. She seems totally indifferent to her absent father, but even when she refers to him, there tends to be annoyance that he just doesn't do what she thinks he should do.
Case in point, she gets annoyed at her grandfather and brings up his dead wife (her grandfather) cause you read in that moment she wants to cause him pain (ie to not tell a lie for a moment) and with the quickness he shuts he down after a few moments. Frankly, I wanted to tell Cady and Gat, that sometimes people process grief their own way, and you don't get to tell someone how to do it.
The other characters in this book are not developed well. But that is due to us reading about all of these people through Cady's eyes. I can't tell you anything about her cousins besides their heights and they had Sinclair looks (blonde hair) and that's about it. Lockhart provides more details about the dead grandmother than she did anyone else.
And was anyone else weirded out by the fact that Cady and others don't know much about Gat's home life or anything? It made no sense to me. These kids apparently don't speak to each other via email, IM, or text at all after the summer is up. So Cady being devastated after Gat and her have not spoken since the summer before, and know he is seeing someone made me roll my eyes. He's not a plant. You can't just imagine him siting around doing nothing until you want to play with him again.
The writing was too much. Honestly, I the whole thing was ripe with purple prose. The only things I did like were the fairy-tale stories (reason for the second star) that Cady interjects throughout the book that symbolizes her grandfather and her aunts and mother. But once again I am going to say that Cady equating those fairy-tales with what her family was doing was eye roll inducing.
The ending which I called just made me sigh until I was finally done with the book.