We Were Liars - book cover
Literature & Fiction
  • Publisher : Ember; Illustrated edition
  • Published : 29 May 2018
  • Pages : 320
  • ISBN-10 : 0385741278
  • ISBN-13 : 9780385741279
  • Language : English

We Were Liars

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist, and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart. Don't miss the eagerly anticipated prequel, Family of Liars, available May 2022!

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends-the Liars-whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

"Thrilling, beautiful, and blisteringly smart, We Were Liars is utterly unforgettable." -John Green, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Fault in Our Stars

Editorial Reviews

"You're going to want to remember the title. Liars details the summers of a girl who harbors a dark secret, and delivers a satisfying, but shocking twist ending." -Breia Brissey, Entertainment Weekly

"This mindblowing YA thriller from E. Lockhart will make you glad you're the 99 percent...And that's about all we can tell you when it comes to the story of 'We Were Liars,' the book by E. Lockhart that everyone will be reading, and re-reading, this summer. It's twisty, it's mysterious, and it's got a surprise ending that'll knock your socks off."
 -Kat Rosenfield, MTV News

"Surprising, thrilling, and beautifully executed in spare, precise, and lyrical prose, Lockhart spins a tragic family drama, the roots of which go back generations. And the ending? Shhhh. Not telling. (But it's a doozy)...This is poised to be big." -Booklist, starred review

"Lockhart has created a mystery with an ending most readers won't see coming, one so horrific it will prompt some to return immediately to page one to figure out how they missed it. At the center of it is a girl who learns the hardest way of all what family means, and what it means to lose the one that really mattered to you." -Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Riveting, brutal and beautifully told." -Kirkus, starred review

"The ending is a stunner that  will haunt readers for a long time to come." -School Library Journal, starred review

"A taut psychological mystery marked by an air of uneasy disorientation...The ultimate reveal is shocking both for its tragedy and for the how-could-I-have-not-suspected-that? feeling it leaves us with. But we didn't, which is Lockhart's commendable triumph." -The Horn Book, starred review

"This is a love story as much as it is a psychological mystery…Astonishing." -Shelf Awareness, starred review

"[a] haunting, sophisticated mystery...a novel so twisty and well-told that it will appeal to older readers as well as to adolescents." -The Wall Street Journal

"Irresistible premise for this ticking time bomb of a novel." -The New York Times Book Review

"A Lockhart YA is always a treat and this is no exception...The glimpse we get into a life of privilege, a lifestyle most of us can only imagine, is insightful and thrilling. The ending will shock the mose jaded of readers, we promise!" -RT Book Reviews

"There's trouble in paradise at the opening of National Book Award finalist and Printz honoree E. Lockhart's shattering yet ultimately hopeful YA novel . . . and neither family nor reader will ever be the same." -Library Journal


Readers Top Reviews

Amy BuckleACFreetoro
The blurb for this book sounded extremely interesting and made me immediately want to read it. The protagonist in the novel is Cadence Sinclair, a teenager who appears to have a wealthy family, although her mother and father had a messy divorce and as a result, she does not feel completely satisfied with her life. In terms of a synopsis, I’m still not entirely sure what happened myself, so it’s best if I don’t attempt to give you one. Lockhart provided an interesting insight from the perspective of a complicated, strange and slightly confused character, with an underlying element of insanity that I could not pinpoint until the end. Although the story was at first intriguing, I found that I quickly became bored of the storyline and uninterested in what was happening due to the repetitiveness of the plot. The actual storyline in We Were Liars didn’t make a lot of sense and I found that overall it was missing the progression of a grounded and coherent plot line. While Lockhart’s writing was emotive and colourful, the story was overall underwhelming, monotonous and dull. While I did enjoy the little ‘fairytales’ about the King and Princesses that Lockhart threw in randomly throughout the book, and found that the symmetry between them and the actual story made for an interesting deduction for the audience to ‘read between the lines,’ which was where my enthusiasm for this book ended. On a more positive note, the twist at the end of this novel was shocking, heart-breaking and absolutely unpredictable. I had no idea that Lockhart would choose to do what she did, and thought that this choice did allow for some sense of normality and understanding in the book. There were a lot of intricate character relationships portrayed, involving love, trust (or a lack of it) and a strong and resilient family bond, that would not be broken no matter how much they seemed to be falling apart. Cadence’s ‘madness’ was a point of interest in the book; Lockhart managed to subtly use moments such as the endless pills she was taking and her desire to own nothing material to successfully portray this. However I think if she wanted to make this emotive or profound she would need to emphasise the ‘madness’ even more. One character who I found intriguing was Gat. He was the obvious choice for Cadence, but I never felt satisfied with the relationship between Cadence and Gat. I enjoyed their love for each other, and thought that Cadence’s lust for someone she could not have would be very relatable for a lot of readers. However I found that Gat’s hostility towards her was frustrating and would have preferred if Lockhart kept to a more ‘Romeo and Juliet’ storyline, keeping their forbidden love alive. In the end I think if I were to describe the book in one word it would be messy.
J. Ang
A privileged girl, Cady, grows up with her three same-aged cousins, affectionately called the Liars, on a private island that she visits every summer, until she is fifteen, when a mysterious accident wipes out her memory and she struggles to unravel what happened that summer. An air of tragedy permeates what used to be her idyllic existence, and she wonders why everyone is not just tiptoeing around her, but her cousins are freezing her out when she is recovering back home in Boston. Not your typical straightforward YA novel, though it has all the necessary ingredients like a teenage crush on a dark handsome outsider in the family, her volatile relationships with her single mother, her estranged father, and her aunts, and her hoary and extremely patriarchal grandfather, who’s a little of a tyrant like King Lear with her 3 fawning daughters dependent on his goodwill. Lockhart’s writing is crisp and sharp, and the characterisation refreshingly rich and layered, where even the minor characters like each of Cady’s younger cousins, whom the older kids call the Littles, are distinct and unique. The dialogue is also authentic, and there are quite a few quotable lines that bear committing to memory, like “Silence is a protective coating over pain”, a warning Cady’s mom gives her not to bring up distressing memories when Grandma Tipper dies and leaves Grandpa Harris a broken shell of a man, and Mirren, Cady’s cousin’s mantra, “Be a little kinder than you have to”, that proves to be a life source of sorts for Cady. The novel is filled with secrets and lies, and unspoken griefs, and the shock of the twist when it comes, does take one’s breath away. Definitely a credible author, whose work I would want to check out in the near future.
What it is : A suspense mystery about Cadence Sinclair’s childhood summer vacations and the accident that befalls her during the vacation of ‘summer fifteen’, causing her to lose her memory. What works : Great, unusual wrtiing techniques and a genuine twist that sheds light on what you’ve already read. What doesn’t : As narrator, Cadence is passive to a frustrating extent. The build-up to the big reveal has a few too many dull periods, forcing the narrator’s penchant for the dramatic to compensate. Cadence Sinclair (Cady) comes from a rich, well-to-do family. So well-to-do, in fact, that they have the luxury of vacationing on their own priavte island every summer. It is this island, Beechwood, that is the heart of Cady’s narrative; the summers she spent there with her childhood companions. The inseperable foursome; Cady, Johnny, Mirren and Gat – affectionately termed ‘the Liars’ – treasure their Beechwood idyll, but when Cady has a mysterious accident during ‘summer fifteen’, the four become divided as Cady searches for the truth. Lockhart’s clever techniques (as Cady herself declares, ‘I like a twist of meaning’) give vivid representation to ‘the Liars’ as Cady simultaneously struggles with discovering the reality of what has happened to her, the conflicts within her family and the conflicts within herself. ‘The Liars’ – freespirited dreamers – are a contrast with the rest of the Sinclair family -ignorant and repressed. Through these relationships, Lockhart explores social commentary on class, family hierarchy and expectations, while (very) slowly building suspense, and the narrative is as much about the trials of the Sinclairs as it is about Cady’s quest. Lockhart’s aim to enhance the narrative by making Cady herself a writer, describing her feelings in overly dramatic imagery, often feels like filler while the story takes significant time to develop. However, Cady`s creative reimaginings of fairytales reflect the narrative while dealing with her inner turmoil – the matters she (frustratingly) won’t confront in reality. Cady passivity, given the gravity of the situation, is neither believable, nor likeable. Though Cady’s shortcomings make her hard to relate to and detract from the reality of the narrative, Lockhart’s various writing styles are strong and endearing, making the novel an overall enjoyable read. The big reveal evoked an audible response while reading – a sure sign of a shocking twist – and retrospectively strengthens the narrative as a whole. Lockart has impressively painted an evocative picture of a family portrait being ripped to pieces alongside a tale of suspense.
The Blonde Likes Boo
Unfortunately, I hated this book. I felt like it was so predictable, the plot was bland, and I found almost all of the characters unlikeable and undeveloped. On top of that, I hated the writing style. Lastly, it was a lot of buildup for a quick ending that was unsatisfying anyway.
Noor AliKelly Gunder
I feel like the author is a bit problematic in using names like Fatima, which are very highly respected (and religiously significant) to describe a dog in the book. Furthermore, Fatima is the only pet which is described, and is explained as having “a chubby nose and wide face”. I may be reaching but it seems like a play in some problematic phenotypic stereotypes. Perhaps do better research next time to not offend your Muslim Readers. (unless it was intentional— in which case, we’ve got bigger problems than writing to discuss!)

Short Excerpt Teaser

Welcome to the beautiful Sinclair family.

No one is a criminal.

No one is an addict.

No one is a failure.

The Sinclairs are athletic, tall, and handsome. We are old-money Democrats. Our smiles are wide, our chins square, and our tennis serves aggressive.

It doesn't matter if divorce shreds the muscles of our hearts so that they will hardly beat without a struggle. It doesn't matter if trust-fund money is running out; if credit card bills go unpaid on the kitchen counter. It doesn't matter if there's a cluster of pill bottles on the bedside table.

It doesn't matter if one of us is desperately, desperately in love.

So much 

in love 

that equally desperate measures 

must be taken.

We are Sinclairs.

No one is needy.

No one is wrong.

We live, at least in the summertime, on a private island off the coast of Massachusetts.

Perhaps that is all you need to know.