Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Book Review Club - We Were Liars

We Were Liars
E. Lockhart

I had the great pleasure of listening to a panel on which Emily Lockhart spoke at BEA. She is an adroit, strong, well-spoken writer. I was intrigued and decided to end my year of book reviews with one about her latest, We Were Liars.

Lockhart has a style all her own, somewhat reminiscent of Hemingway - parsimonious, yet emotionally sated. Style alone - doing a lot with so few word - is reason enough to read We Were Liars. Plus, there's that whole, it's a "damn fine story" aspect. Is one allowed to curse in book reviews? I wonder. Ah well. This is YA people. Cursing happens.

I very much like Penguin's recap of this book, so I am shamelessly stealing:

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.

Again, parsimonious, almost free verse.

Lockhart builds in a nice, other worldly experience into the book that the book blurb doesn't reference, and of the four friends, three are cousins, but otherwise, the synopsis captures style and story very well.

I've only met one reader so far who didn't pick up on the other worldly experience early in the story. I'm not sure you're not supposed to pick up on it. In fact, I think you're supposed to sense it but not be sure, paralleling the experience of the main character. There are parallels to M. Night Shyamalan's visual work. 

My oldest has to read two novels for the summer for her Fall Sophomore class English. I've pressed this one on her. Think of all of those coming of age stories you had to read - Lord of the Flies, A Separate Peace, Catcher in the Rye - that's where this book belongs, only written in today's vernacular and thus readily accessible to today's youth without becoming weighty. This could also make a great beach read since it happens in summer, at least partly on a beach.

For other great summer treasures, Barrie Summy's website marks the spot for  reads galore. Have a great summer!



Sarah Laurence said...

Fabulous review! After reading the mixed review in the NYT and your glowing review, I'm going to order a copy from local indie bookstore.

Lucy said...

Sounds like a good book. Thanks for the review.

Barrie said...

Guess what I'm reading? The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks. It was published in 2008 and also written by E. Lockhart. Starred review from Booklist. I'm quite enjoying it!! Thanks for reviewing, Stacy!

Rose said...

Great review, Stacy! I don't usually read YA books anymore, but this one certainly sounds intriguing, especially when you compare it to great novels like "Catcher in the Rye" and "Lord of the Flies." Young people would probably relate to this one much more.