Book Summary: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

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Unravel a gripping mystery set against the backdrop of an idyllic private island where four teenagers spend their summers. This is the world of “We Were Liars” by E. Lockhart, where opulence and tranquility mask a web of secrets and lies. Each summer brings the group together, and with them, it drags the hidden truths closer to the surface.

Your journey through the pages will lead you on a path of discovery and heartache, piecing together the events that tie these young individuals to a history they can’t outrun. As friendships are tested and family loyalties are questioned, you’ll find yourself examining the weight of the unsaid and the impact of the past on the present.



“We Were Liars” by E. Lockhart is a gripping tale of family, privilege, and secrets. Set on a private island, it follows the Sinclair family, whose perfect facade conceals dark mysteries. The protagonist, Cadence, navigates a traumatic incident, grappling with amnesia and attempting to unravel the truth. The narrative weaves a haunting and suspenseful exploration of love, loss, and the consequences of hidden truths, leaving readers in awe of the emotional depth and unexpected twists.

Key Elements of the Story

  • Protagonist: Cadence Sinclair, a young woman from a privileged family
  • Setting: Summertime on a private island owned by Cadence’s grandfather
  • The Sinclair Family: Known for their wealth, physical attractiveness, and athleticism
  • The Liars: A close circle of friends that includes Cadence, who undergoes a life-changing accident
  • Plot Twist: Cadence seeks to uncover the hidden truths about her accident and the family’s secrets

As you immerse yourself in “We Were Liars,” you’ll follow Cadence on her journey to unravel the layers of her past summers with the Liars—this tale is as enticing as it is mysterious.

Detailed Plot Summary

As you follow the story of Cadence Sinclair, you encounter the complexities of a wealthy family harboring dark secrets. Each summer is traditionally spent on Beechwood Island, where family patriarch and fortune maker Harris Sinclair has established four lavish homes for his lineage.

During one pivotal summer, at fourteen years old, Cadence, along with her cousins Johnny and Mirren, and friend Gat Patil, form a tight-knit group known as the Liars. Relationships deepen and when Cadence and Gat develop romantic feelings, the summers on Beechwood take on a new layer of intensity.

Unfortunately, tragedy follows joy as Cadence experiences an accident during her fifteenth summer, leading to persistent migraines and fragmented memory. Afterward, her life unravels — she sees her grades plummet, her social life crumble, and undergoes a radical change in appearance and persona.

The summer following her accident is markedly different. Cadence doesn’t return to Beechwood, choosing to travel through Europe with her father instead, with the gap amongst the Liars widening due to their unusual silence.

The summer of her seventeenth year beckons Cadence back to Beechwood where she is determined to unearth the events of that summer. The family presents a united front, discouraging her pursuit of truth under the guise of medical advice.

In her quest for understanding, Cadence pieces together memories revealing familial discord centered around inheritance and legacy, conflicts that now seem mysteriously quelled. Cadence senses an unsettling change in her grandfather’s home — the absence of her late grandmother Tipper’s belongings following its remodel hints at deeper transformations.

A breakthrough arrives when Cadence recollects a fire that razed the estate during her accident-laden summer: a deliberate act the Liars committed aiming to destroy the physical embodiment of their family’s strife.

However, with the vivid recollection comes a devastating truth. The plan that Cadence believed was successful, at first, concludes with a heart-wrenching discovery — the fire claimed much more than physical property; it also claimed the lives of Johnny, Mirren, and Gat. The loss devastates Cadence, leaving her to face the immense weight of guilt and the stark reality that she must traverse the journey of healing and forgiveness alone.

Book Evaluation

We Were Liars

Points of Contention

  • Narrative Style: Some readers might find the narrative overly dramatic and brooding.
  • Pacing Issues: The part of the story that follows Cadence’s amnesia may feel excessively drawn out for some.

Verdict on the Read

  • Engaging Mystery: If unraveling a mystery appeals to you, this book is likely to entertain.
  • Summer Setting: The novel’s beach and summer setting make it an appropriate choice for light seasonal reading.
  • Book Club Potential: While this book conveys themes of wealth and its impact on relationships, you may prefer more complex material for group discussions.

Thematic Points to Consider:

  • The introspective dive into family affairs and the intricate dynamics of privilege.
  • The tale is crafted with attention, offering a logical progression that culminates in a coherent ending that makes sense retrospectively.

Book Excerpt

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.

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A Fast and Entertaining Read

It’s been a handful of years since I read this book and it still pops into my head. It may be the simple way that I read (entertainment first…clue chasing second). Twits and turns are fun and I am usually shocked by the turn of events in a book. This one was no exception.

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