We Were Liars
E. Lockhart (Hot Key Books)
This book though. WAH!
So… It’s a good few days since I actually finished this book but it has taken me this long to process just how PERFECT it was.
THERE WILL BE SPOILERY CHAT AHEAD… you’ve been warned.
This book is stunning, it’s about a family who come from money and their lives over various summers that they spend on their private island off of Martha’s Vineyard.
If I am perfectly honest I was recommended this book often, saw it myself everywhere for the last about 6 months but I kept putting off reading it because the premise of rich family does rich people things on private island that I kept hearing did not entice me. But I’m so glad that I did…
I knew going in that there was going to be a BIG plot twist at the end of this book but I didn’t spoil myself and i tried my best to just immerse myself in the story rather than trying to guess constantly through the book.
I was immediately struck with the illustrations when I started the book, they were not only beautiful to look at but it gave me the indication that there would be complexities and intricacies in the plot – and this really intrigued me.
There were two main things i LOVED about this book. The first is the fairy-tales that Cadence creates and tells us throughout the book. I love the language used in them and I love how to begin with they just seemed quirky and fun but then as the story progressed and Cadence begins to use these tales as a tool to let us further into the secrets and lies of the family you begin to understand just how dark and deep they were.
The second thing I love (and for this hindsight is a marvelous thing!) is how there are small moments or key phrases throughout the book that ultimately foreshadowed the ending of the book… of course easy to miss during a first read as we don’t know what it is we are looking for – but as I began to flip through the book a second time I noticed these sentences and how they stood out against the backdrop of the plot.
“This island is ours. Here, in some way, we are young forever.” p122
“They look the same, Gat in a worn green T-shirt from two summers ago.” p69
This brings me onto my speculations for this book. There is a lot of chat on the book tubes about what this book was really trying to portray. Some people read this as a ghost story almost, seeing the Liars as ghosts unable to ‘pass on’ until Cadence fully understood what was going on. But I definitely am in the camp of hallucinations, and here is why…
I see this as a story about recovering from trauma, battling with mental health issues and working through recovery to accept what has happened in the past. I think that as Cadence survived, she suffered a great deal of P.T.S.D. – a horrible, invisible illness that can cause a great deal of denial, memory gaps surrounding a traumatic event and something that can easily cause the mind to fill in the blanks with less horrific, more acceptable ‘truths’ until someone is ready to push them aside and dust off the scrapbook of memories of what really happened. I believe that due to P.T.S.D. Cadence was somewhat delusional and it was obviously known to the adults as everyone is warned not to mention the events of ‘summer 15’ to her throughout the holiday. Her brain created the hallucinations of the other Liars as a comfort, an assurance a way to survive being back on the island again. At first the hallucinations play along with the story, they are real and happy and talking about their lives as normal kids would (although trapped in the image of Cadence’s last memory of them). However, soon as Cadence’s memories start to come back her mind cannot lie any more and the hallucinations it has created start to crack and let the reality through. Cadence had the memories of the Liars with her, holding her hand through the process of recovery – to some people this might seem ‘crazy’ or even frightening but I think that although not always healthy, its beautiful how our own minds can work in such magical ways to protect us and keep us feeling secure through recovery.
Thanks for reading my rambles 🙂
Any responses or discussions feel free to get in touch and we can theorize.
Catch you next time, Susie xo