I continue to have access to special exclusive advanced copies of books that aren’t even out yet, and said books often have a little note from the author and/or publisher on the first page explaining how it’s a special exclusive advanced copy. Such a note in We Were Liars by E. Lockhart mentions the importance of golden retrievers in the story, so I was immediately hooked, but also requests that the special exclusive advanced copy reader not share the ending with anyone, which will be extremely hard to do in this post. But here goes.
Cadence Sinclair Eastman is part of an extremely wealthy New England family that owns an island near Cape Cod, where they spend every summer. Each summer has been miraculously fun and perfect because of Cadence’s two cousins, Johnny and Mirren, and Johnny’s Indian friend, Gat, all of whom she refers to as “the Liars”. “Summer Fifteen”, the summer she and the other three are 15 years old, is when everything changes: Cadence’s parents have just gotten divorced, but she can’t really react because more than anything Cadence’s mother just wants her to be normal; Cadence realizes she is in love with Gat; and Cadence wakes up in a hospital after being found half-naked and soaking wet with multiple head injuries on one of the island’s many little beaches.
Fast forward to Summer Seventeen: Cadence suffers from unimaginable migraines as a result of the accident, of which she still has no recollection, but is finally allowed back on the island per her mother’s instructions. She is fairly depressed, has lost an unhealthy amount of weight and has dyed her hair black instead of the signature Sinclair blond (a serious affront to the rest of the family), but is thrilled to back in her happy place. She tries to piece together exactly what went down that summer, but no one is willing to talk about it. Various clues, including the main house on the island being completely rebuilt and two of the five golden retrievers being absent (I can’t EVEN), eventually lead her to figure out what happened, which I cannot disclose per Lockhart’s request.
What I can tell you is the end surprised me in that I didn’t think it was possible given what I knew about the character(s), but the way Lockhart develops the story helps it not be quite so shocking and appalling (though shocking and appalling it definitely is). I really appreciate Lockhart’s writing style — a poetry-prose hybrid — and I look forward to reading more from him/her (what does that “E.” stand for?!).