We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
A great story with unique writing, We Were Liars keeps the eyes of the reader zipping along with short paragraphs, mid-sentence line breaks, and a compelling mystery rivaled by few.
My favorite tidbit of Lockhart’s writing in this book were the “taglines” she gave each of her main character’s best friends. They are as follows:
Johnny, he is bounce, effort, and snark.
Mirren, she is sugar, curiosity, and rain.
Gat, he was contemplation and enthusiasm. Ambition and strong coffee.
Don’t miss that Lockhart decided to use nouns, not adjectives, to describe her characters. Gat is ambition, not ambitious. Although this play on words could be looked at in many different ways, I see it as a way to emphasize the importance of the statements. Gat does not only possess ambition, he encompasses the thing itself.
What do you think of Lockhart choosing these nouns where adjectives would normally be used?
These taglines provided a unique, fun way to introduce the characters but also helped me understand the basic truth of the characters later on. These taglines were stated more than once throughout the book, and the truth of them really struck home once I’d gotten to know the characters more. They gave me something solid and definitive to understand the characters’ personalities while being unique and memorable.
Although the book is clearly a young adult story in realistic fiction, Lockhart did not let the genre limit her writing. Some metaphors were stated with so much authority that the images (often violent) sharply portrayed what the character was feeling. Examples:
My father ran off with some woman he loved more than us…He had hired moving vans already. He’d rented a house, too. My father put a last suitcase into the backseat of the Mercedes and started the engine.
Then he pulled out a handgun and shot me in the chest. I was standing on the lawn and I fell. The bullet hole opened wide and my heart rolled out of my rib cage and down into a flower bed. Blood gushed rhythmically from my open wound,
then from my eyes,
That first night, I cried and bit my gingers and drank wine I snuck from the Clairmont pantry. I spun violently into the sky, raging and banging stars from their moorings, swirling and vomiting.
The Big Mystery **Spoilers ahead**
The entire plot revolves around a big mystery that everyone seems to be keeping from the first-person narrator, Cadence. She spends the entire novel trying to figure out what happened and the mystery kept me very intrigued as a reader. It was fun to guess what the mystery was and Lockhart did a good job at laying down clues along the way. (Possibly too good of clues because I realized what the big mystery was about 50 pages before I was told.)
FOUR STARS! I enjoyed the story as well as the fresh writing style. Although I’m not eager to read more of Lockhart’s work, I wouldn’t shy away from it either! I have to thank my friend Tom for the recommendation and let him know I struggled to keep myself from scribbling notes in the margins of his book.