Our book this month is We Were Liars by the utterly awesome E. Lockhart.
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.
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE. (Goodreads)
I LOVED this book. It’s very different for Lockhart, who normally makes me laugh and fist pump and want to give everyone around me a high five, but it was very good. Painfully so.
This month I have the distinct pleasure of hosting the roundtable discussion with my other SC friends. In order to avoid any spoilers, we’re keeping it light and clear of any huge plot points.
1. We Were Liars is the story of Cadence “Cady” Sinclair and the summers she spends with her cousins, grandparents, and others, on the family’s private island. Her cousins, Johnny, Mirren, and Gat are her best friends, though they don’t spend real time together outside of the island. Have you ever had a relationship like that, someone who was close to you but who wasn’t truly a part of your everyday life?
2. Summers on the island seemed to be spent going from house to house with the different cousins and aunts. Have you ever had a family vacation tradition, someplace you traveled to every summer, or something you did every summer like clockwork?
I always used to envy those kids who would go to a vacation house or camp every summer. I was never that kid. We’d make a trip to Palm Springs each year (which I loved, but just so you know, Palm Springs is a place you don’t want to be in July since it’s eleven thousand degrees on your average day). Now, as my kids grow, we try to create some summer traditions for them outside of the normal beach days and movie outings. We take a camping trip every summer with our very dear friends and their young children. The spot varies, but hey, it’s real camping with tents and s’mores and campfires. No electronics or big luxuries in the great outdoors! On the home front we do dorky things like Christmas in July (Christmas movies and homemade cookie decorating all day around July 25) and Talk With An English Accent day. We usually squeeze in a road trip each summer, too and our family looks forward to that. (Tee @YA Crush)
3. So much of this novel is about the twisted, trouble life of an excessively wealthy family. Do you think the money itself was the problem, that life would have been simpler for them without it, or do you think the issue lies with the family itself and the way Grandfather led them?
I think the money contributed because they couldn’t have had the lifestyle without the money. There relationships with each other would have been different because without the excessive wealth, they probably wouldn’t spend every summer together like they do. I think the money had a great influence on the grandfather as well and his power over the money gave him power over the rest of the family, so yes, money was the problem in this case. I was disgusted by the way the parents (adults) used the kids to try to ingratiate themselves with the grandparents. ( Daphne, Gone Pecan)
I think it’s about 50/50. Money can very definitely often lead to problems, even in the best functioning families. You can definitely see a lot of typical money issues in the Sinclair family: greed, jealousy, pettiness, anger, hurt, revenge. Money can easily bring out the very worst in people. That being said, I think a lot of the Sinclairs’ problems stemmed from who they are. The grandfather might have started a lot of the issues with his own thirst for money and power, but I think each of the daughters formed their own issues separately from their upbringing. Each of their hurt and disappointments led to their own jealous behaviors and sparked quite a lot of animosity between the family. (Candice, The Grown Up YA)
4. If you inherited an insane amount of money what would you do?
If I inherited an insane amount of money, first of all, I would probably faint dead away because there’s no way it could be true. However, the next thing I would do is pack my bags and head to Italy to try to find myself a nice little casa in the Italian countryside, maybe with a vineyard, but definitely with a cook, someone’s grandmother. Once that was accomplished, I would pay for my entire extended family to take a vacation at Disney World. When that’s over, I’d take a nice relaxing vacation with my husband & kids in Fiji. I just realized my dreams all include going places, not necessarily buying things. Following that, I would probably buy things for my new Italian villa and buy all the Coach leather purses my new bedroom-sized closet could hold. (Daphne, Gone Pecan)
5. Cady, Johnny, Mirren, and Gat refer to themselves as The Liars. This speaks volumes about what they observed within their own family. Without spoilers, what do you think they meant by that name?
While the four call themselves Liars, I think it’s funny how broad that title stretches. I think it mostly means that they were lying to themselves about who they are. Sure, the whole family puts on a front for society: wealthy, well-to-do, Democrat family who is hap hap happy. But I think they go a step further and put that front on for themselves, telling themselves that they are a happy family and that “they’re Sinclairs” as if that means something important. They are lying to themselves about who they are and who they aren’t. And that’s all I’m going to say because it’s about to get real spoilery up in here. (Candice, The Grown Up YA)
I think that on the outside the Sinclairs appear to have a life people dream about. They have summer homes–that’s plural–on a private island with servants and loads money, so much that they don’t event think about it. They’re so wealthy that each daughter has her own home on the island. This is in addition to the main house, where Grandpa lives. And it’s in addition to the lush lives they live in their gorgeous homes off the island. They NAMED their houses. Only exceedingly wealthy (or British) people do this. But Cady, Mirren, Johnny, and Gat aren’t blind. They see through the picture-perfect image. They see the crack in the family bond, the troubles with money and the inner turmoil of a family run by a slightly oppressive patriarch. So that beautiful life everyone thinks they live? It’s just like yours or mine. In fact, it’s not even as good as that. It’s filled with lies. It’s troubled, it’s complicated, and the money only makes it worse. I have to say, I think their name, The Liars, suits them. (Tee, YA Crush)
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The Book Addict’s Guide- Author Q&A and Giveaway
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The Grown Up YA- Page to Screen
Teen Lit Rocks- Review
Many thanks to Random House, who sent us all copies of We Were Liars.