On My Bookshelf: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

June 02, 2015


The basic plot: Cadence is recovering from a head injury and amnesia, the cause of which she can’t remember. It’s summertime on her wealthy family’s island. Her mother and her two aunts (her mother's sisters) each have their own houses on the island in addition to her grandfather’s house, which he recently rebuilt. Cady is looking forward to seeing her two cousins and a family friend/love interest; together they form a foursome self-titled “the liars.” As Cady spends more time on the island, she begins to remember more and more about the terrible injury that caused her memory loss.

Why I liked it: Cady and “the liars” are at a wonderful age where they have bursts of maturity mixed with innocent childishness. Cady and Nate have a relationship that is intense without being overly physical or sexual.

While I struggled with the author’s writing style at first, the main character often just trails off at the end of each chapter, the writing does move fluidly between past and present.

There isn't a set date yet, but it looks like this novel, named a best YA book of 2014 by GoodReads, will become a movie. I am intrigued as to how it will transfer to film.


Classroom application: Your students will likely either love it or hate it based on how much they love or hate the narrator. It's definitely one to add to your classroom library.

Because of the novel’s surprise ending, the novel would make an excellent mentor text for plot structure. After students have finished the novel, have them re-examine the book, identifying clues that point to the ending. Then have students plan their own narrative starting with a surprise ending and working backwards to the start of the story, planting hints at the ending as they go. Work with students to make those hints subtle rather than obvious. Students can test the subtlety of their clues by having a peer read their narrative minus the ending and see if their ending can be predicted. If it can be, then the clues are too obvious.

For more book suggestions for students and teachers:

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2 comments

  1. This was one of my book club's novels this year. I thought it would be a good read for some of my students as well.

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  2. Oooo book club. Jealous, but love that you read YA lit in it :)

    Brynn Allison
    The Literary Maven

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