We Were Liars is a fictional, first-person narrative of a teenager during her wealthy family’s downfall. I chose this for my book club’s young adult title and purposely placed it in the summer months because I thought it would be a great beach or pool read. It is both literary and commercial. The chapters are generally two pages or less and she weaves in snippets of fairy tales to reinforce some of the ambiguous language.
It amazes me how an author can construct a complex, engaging book that has a universal appeal. The title itself pulls you in without ever opening the cover – “We Were Liars” – who are they? what have they done? why did they lie? It seems like there are clues in the title to the themes in the story but I never really figured it out. So much in this book is left to interpretation.
Reading books like this challenges me. I don’t read fantasy and never cared for magical realism in books and movies because I am such a literal person. I think this book had just enough of both fairy tale and realism that someone like me can still enjoy it. The writing is almost poetic at times – the hallucinatory episodes of violence were shocking yet somehow fitting for the story. I have teenagers so I know how dramatic they can be about everything. The challenge for me is being able to recognize the themes and understanding the author’s intent with certain elements.
I don’t want to talk about the story or plot because I feel it’s best read when you go into it blindly. Some will be turned off by the teenage angst and materialistic people found in the pages. They aren’t likeable at all. The appeal to this book is all in the discovery. You don’t really know why you’re so fixated on the story until the end – then you’ll want to go back to the beginning and re-read it just so you can experience it once more with eyes wide open.
Goodreads rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Book club pairing: Teenager Snacks
Coca Cola, Pizza Rolls, Popcorn, Bagel Bites, and chocolate