Book 8 on my “March to 100 for 2019″—E. Lockhart: We Were Liars—A private family island owned by a wealthy patriarch with houses for each of his feuding daughters and their spoiled children. Mix in the four Liars for a mystery.
Cadence Sinclair Easton knows exactly what she is—a privileged grandchild of a wealthy man who gets things in life because of that position. She also becomes aware how the money has torn her family apart since the patriarch uses the threat of his wealth—restructuring his estate plans based on who is in or out of favor—to rule his children and grandchildren.
Every summer, she joins everyone on the private, family island near Martha’s Vineyard where each of his daughters has their own home. The grandchildren spend the summer playing games in what at first appears to be an idyllic world. But as you become aware of broken families (none of the daughters’ first marriages survived) and the ugliness of the grandfather, the island seems more a prison than a retreat.
Unfortunately, Cady also doesn’t know a lot. Specifically, she can’t remember what happened on the island the year she was 15. Or why whatever happened was so bad she didn’t go back when she was 16. And is only allowed four weeks of the summer during her 17th year. The book, of course, is the discovery of that mystery.
The book is told in first person, so you know from the start that things are being hidden not only from Cady but also from you, the reader. She learns bits and pieces from her closest friends on the island, cousins Mirren and Johnny, and quasi-step-cousin Gat (the grandfather disapproves of his daughter’s relationship with an Indian man, so they aren’t yet married) who is also her quasi-boyfriend (the grandfather disapproves of that, too). The “littles”—the youngest cousins—share tidbits, but also state clearly that they have been told not to talk about that summer. Cady’s mother and her aunts are less helpful and the grandfather is suffering from Alzheimer’s.
The use of an unreliable narrator is a classic tool for telling such a story since every character knows what happened, but just won’t talk about it.
The book is targeted to the young adult market and is a quick read. The characters are both easy to hate (grandfather, et. al.) or easy to like (Gat, Johnny and Mirren). And the mystery is pretty good (though I figured out the key part of it about half way through the book which took some of the enjoyment away).
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