A Book Review: We Were Liars

CAUTION: Major spoilers ahead.

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Alternate titles for this post:

That time I realized not all YA lit sucks.

So I joined a book club I found online… does that make me a loser?

When plots twists make you feel like your whole world flipped upside down.

we were liars

So yeah, after wanting to join a book club for years but not knowing any to join or where to even find one to join, I put the question out to the Facebook world and was directed towards the Meetup app, where I found a girls-only group to join!  I can’t decide if that’s awesome or desperate.  Is this like online dating for fellow reading fanatics?  Anyway, I’ll admit I was a little apprehensive when I hit up B&N and found this month’s book, We Were Liars, in the Young Adult section.  In my experience, YA lit is pretty superficial, predictable and kind of mindless.  But!  Turns out my literature snobiness needed a check and it totally got one with this book.

The book, in a nutshell, is about a rich white family that spends every summer on a private island, but the eldest grandchild (who is also the narrator) has some kind of accident during “Summer 15” and the rest of the book details her struggle to remember what happened and why no one in her family is willing to talk about it.  In the end, it turns out “the accident” was a fire she started with her cousins that resulted in their deaths.  She’s the only one who lived.  Whoa!  What!  I read that twist during my lunch break one day and was so distracted for the rest of the work day.

I guess the reason I liked the book so much was because it defied all my expectations.  The characters weren’t stupid.  The writing wasn’t juvenile.  The story was deeper than some WASP-y private island drama.  And I DID NOT see the plot twist coming.  In fact, no one in my book group saw it coming.  If  you think about it, that’s pretty impressive.  I actually found the writing to be enjoyable and creative.  There’s some interesting stuff going on stylistically that sort of reminded me of poetry.  I.e. short choppy sentences, line breaks, repetition (but not in an annoying overdone way), etc.

What’s more, the dialogue was done well (I usually think dialogue is entirely unnatural/unrealistic), the main characters were well developed and felt real (which is probably why I was doing some serious holding back of tears at the end) and the plot felt thought out.  One of my biggest book pet peeves is when I can feel that the author has a general idea of things but is kind of winging it and figuring out details as they go.  That wasn’t the case here.  E. Lockhart seemed to have a firm grasp on her characters, her plot and the details that connected the first page to the last.  Her writing felt confident.  I like that 🙂

P.S.  I think I really liked book group!

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