January 22, 2014

TURNING PAGES: We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart

I received a copy of this novel in October, and it was ...rather plain. No cover. No fancy fly-leaf. Just a note from the author, and a stack of manuscript. Cybils was in full swing, so I set it aside to read and chat about it a little closer to the date. This is a LITTLE closer to the date, but you still have a ways to go. Never mind - there's much to tell! As you can see from the note, I get to lie about it, which isn't normally what I do, when I review a book, but hey! The title suggests it. The cover supports it.

The finished cover is itself a whole discussion. The sun-bright sea, the blinding shine of the water. The beautiful people standing in the sea, being beautiful, the way the letters smear, just a little, mean that you can't see anything clearly. This both says nothing and everything about this story. In the tradition of The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, this is the tale of a beautiful, privileged family, and their stylish escapades. It's the story of subverting the dominant culture and making a place for yourself to emerge as you really are - if you can believe it.

Once upon a time, there was a king who had three beautiful daughters.

Or, maybe there wasn't.

If it starts with "Once Upon a Time," it's a fairytale. Everyone knows most fairytales are just the collected stuff people had already told for years. I mean, the Brothers Grimm. Everyone knows they stole their stuff from half the German countryside. And let's not forget Hans Christian Anderson, - sure, he made up his stories, but there were heavy morals that were borrowed from conventional wisdom back then. Stories from France, collected by Charles Perrault, are a lot like the tales from Greece, which Aesop told, only with less of a clearly defined moral. The Thousand and One Nights was collected over many centuries by various authors, translators, and scholars across West, Central, South Asia and North Africa. This book has a lot of "Once Upon a Time" in it, so it could all be conjecture, guesswork, a full-blown tissue of lies. It's a story. Just ...a story.


Be normal, now. Right now.
Because you are. Because you can be.

Concerning Character: Candace Sinclair knows better than to cause a problem. No tantrums, no public quarrels. No scenes. Sinclairs don't do that. Sinclairs respect their elders, make allowances, and make do. Sit up. Smile. Show your family how much you love them. There are ironclad rules of being a Sinclair. Take what you get, don't pitch a fit. Winners never quit, quitters never win. Don't take no for an answer. Fortunately, Candace is used to the rigamarole, the nosy aunts, her sometimes stern, autocratic and bossy Grandfather, the hyperactive Littles running around, and really, all of the craziness and the beauty that distinguishes the Sinclairs from everyone else. The truth is, she's really above it, because none of it matters. Not the adults, not their nonsense, not the fussing and the scolding. What matters is, on the Sinclair family's island, the annual summer meeting of the Liars. For three solid months, Candace and her very best friends on Earth can do anything, say anything, be anything they want to be, until the world splits them apart again. They're the only people she truly loves -- and so all the other pettiness she endures throughout the year, living with her mother, being estranged from her father, being ordered around and enduring freezing cold Vermont winters at a school she hates - everything is leavened by being allowed to go to the island every summer, hang out with the Liars, eat clams, lie in the sun, and recover.

Everything is recoverable, everything is salvageable, everything is better, with the Liars.

None of the lies told without them matter.

When Candace is sent to Europe, she misses the Liars something fierce. She writes them frivolous, silly letters and angry bitter ones. She hates being away from them, but the adults are up to some stupidity she has to endure. When she's finally allowed to return, their summer reunion is supposed to be the stuff of legend. Things have happened - Cady knows there's something she isn't quite getting - but none of it matters. The Liars are together again, and there will never be another summer, like their seventeenth...

I received this book courtesy of the author and her publicist, for which I thank them. If you'd like to see some more of this novel before it appears, check out the very pretty WE WERE LIARS tumblr, and remember to SAVE THE DATE. After May 13, 2014, you can find WE WERE LIARS by E. Lockhart online, or at an independent bookstore near you!

1 comment:

Sarah Stevenson said...

By the way, nice job on not giving away spoilers in this one... :)