“We Were Liars” by E. Lockhart : Review

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I didn’t know too much about the plot of “We Were Liars” before reading it. I only knew it had won prizes and was steeped in high acclaim. Plus, it had a recommendation from John Green on the front. So, you know, it had to be good, right?

Cadence goes to her family’s house on a private island near Martha’s Vineyard every summer holiday. She spends her time there with her cousins, Johnny and Mirren, and Gat, the boy she is in love with. Then, one summer, an accident happens. Lies are told and told again. The truth is covered up; avoided. Until, it starts coming back, inevitably bubbling to the surface.

“We Were Liars” has fairy tale type stories, written from the perspective of Cadence, scattered throughout its chapters. These fairy tales, like all good fairy tales, have a strong moral story underlying them that relates back to the broader picture of what happened that summer; they speak volumes without explicitly stating anything. The themes explored in the book include love, mystery, truth and lies, mistakes, the awkward phase of life that is those teenage years, family dynamics, and rich people. “We Were Liars” also has the undertones of the classic story of being brought up one way, being told how to act and how not to act, and then going and doing the very thing you were told not to.

Lockhart’s writing perfectly captures the feelings of summer, youth, and being in love. Her descriptions are divine. My favourite lines are from when Cadence is first describing her two cousins:

“Johnny, he is bounce, effort, and snark. Back then he would hang our Barbies by the necks or shoot us with guns made of Lego.

Mirren, she is sugar, curiosity, and rain. Back then she spent long afternoons with Taft and the twins, splashing at the big beach, while I drew pictures on graph paper and read in the hammock on the Clairmont house porch.”

Despite this beautifully descriptive writing style, I still found that I couldn’t connect with the protagonist a whole lot. I was interested, just not invested. I think, although I could picture the beach and the summer and the holiday side of things very clearly and could relate to these things well, I didn’t much like the main character.

Nevertheless, I would recommend it for a quick read, especially if you want to reminisce about time spent at the beach, lazing around on those hot days. Oh, and the twist is pretty devastating, too.


Jacquie is a 20-something maker and writer from Melbourne. She enjoys eating virtually anything that is labelled salted caramel and, contrary to popular belief, has forgotten how to ride a bike. She feels ambivalent about writing in the third person but thought it might be fun. It was.


  1. Lila

    I feel this way about Burial Rites, so many people recommend it but I just can’t get into it, I haven’t even managed to muster up the energy to finish it!
    It’s good to read a very honest review of a book.


    1. birdandfox

      Ah, see, I really enjoyed Burial Rites! But I know a few other people who couldn’t get through it or were a bit underwhelmed by it. And thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed the review! Thanks for stopping past, Lila.


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