This is a very difficult book to review because so much of We Were Liars relies on the suspense the book builds for the reader. To review it fully would be to spoil it, so unfortunately this will be full of vague information that I can only hope will help people decide to read it (or not). We Were Liars contains the story of the Sinclairs, a rich white family with no problems. They are perfect. Or so the narrator wants us to believe. Beneath the surface, however, they are anything but. With their patriarch aging and seemingly on the path to dementia, the three perfect, blonde daughters and their perfect, blonde children have to come to terms with the fact that the only connection they have are the summers on the Sinclair’s private island.
Oh, the Sinclairs. The perfection of the Sinclairs is repeated throughout the novel and quickly becomes annoying. They are a set of extremely flat characters. There is so little detail regarding them that I had a hard time distinguishing between them. I kept mixing up the daughters of the patriarch. Unfortunately, I doubt that I would have liked them any more if the author had written in more detail. They were very unlikable characters. I couldn’t relate to them at all. (Please note that the next line is dripping with sarcasm.) Perhaps I need a trust fund in order to understand where they were coming from. I viewed them as a set of very spoiled people who always got their way and threw tantrums when they didn’t.
Thankfully, the narrator avoided most of that. She was still spoiled, but at least it wasn’t in the spotlight. Now seventeen, the narrator wants to recount to us the summer of her accident, an accident that left her with migraines and gaps in her memory. She wants to remember what happened before the accident that made her an amnesiac. E. Lockhart shows us this quality by having the narrator be highly unreliable. So annoyingly unreliable. She remembers times she was injured, only to tell us lines later that it is a metaphor for the emotional pain she had. This is also mixed in with actual times that she’s hurt herself, which left me with the lingering unease that she actually hurt herself several times on purpose. It’s very difficult to follow. I understand this is the point, but it doesn’t mean I have to enjoy it. The narration is never clear. It jumps, it fragments, it starts sentences and never finishes them. It was a very frustrating thing for me to read. I considered putting it down. I decided instead to persevere.
I’m glad I did.
Somewhere along the way, the unreliable narration (though still annoying at times) pulled into a very believable story that I ended up reading in one day. I’m purposefully writing my emotions out. I want to say more, but I do not want to ruin a good book for someone else. It’s not often that I finish a book despite it having a writing style that makes me want to take a red correcting pen to it.
I enjoyed this book more than I anticipated. I’d recommend this book for those who like mysteries and stories that make you second guess what you think you understand. If you can’t stand unreliable narrators and you don’t think you can ignore them to get to the meat of We Were Liars, this book will not be enjoyable for you.