Review and Fellowship of the Worms Discussion – We Were Liars

We Were Liars

 We Were Liars

 E. Lockhart

 2014 – YA – Realistic Fiction

 Rating: 5/5

The Story: Cadence belongs to the Sinclair family. Wealthy, put-together, and perfect – or so they seem. Each summer, the family gathers on their private island. Cady and her three cousins play tennis, go sailing, swim, and more. But one summer, Cady has an accident. An accident that she can’t remember, that her family won’t talk about. When she returns to the island two summers later, her memories begin to return and truth begins to surface.

The Opening Line: Welcome to the beautiful Sinclair family.

What I Loved: Books that have unreliable narrators always get me. These types of books really allow readers a glimpse into the mind of the narrator, as stable or unstable as that might be. We aren’t privy to information that the narrator doesn’t get. We are forced to piece together the story at the same pace, which is always a crazy, confusing, dizzying ride for me. These are the books that impact me the most emotionally and make me think the hardest. And Cady is one of the best unreliable narrators I’ve seen in a while.

What I Didn’t Love: The Sinclair family is shallow and I didn’t like a single adult in the book. It was really hard to feel sympathetic for Cady’s mom and aunts, all of whom were fighting over family possessions and inheritances because they had spent all the money in their trust funds but didn’t want to get jobs. The manipulative, controlling grandfather didn’t help, with his constant threats to disinherit anyone who wouldn’t do his bidding.

Fellowship of the Worms Questions (Serious Spoilers Ahead – Caution!!!):

1. Normally I attempt to work through these questions chronologically, but I simply can’t help myself. Was anybody well and truly shocked by the revelation at the end of this book? You know, I picked up bits and pieces along the way that made me think something was going on. But I’ve never been a great detective, so I actually was surprised a bit. Which I think was actually pretty great, because the book is written from Cady’s point of view. She was such an unreliable narrator that I truly felt I was uncovering the truth with her. It was a really effective look into how she might have felt.

2. That said, do you think Cadence was lying about interacting with dead people? Having full on hallucinations? Or, you know, were there legit ghosts hanging around? I think she needed to see them. Were they real? I don’t think so. But they were to her. And whatever the reason, they did truly help her recover her memory, uncover the truth about summer 15.

3. Despite the tragic end of the crime perpetrated by the Liars, did they in any way succeed in their goals?  I don’t know. Gat probably would have said yes, but then again, Gat isn’t saying much of anything these days, is he? In a way, it forced them to confront some of the issues that were plaguing them, but at the same time, it served to make them more broken. Because they were fake and manipulative and shallow as hell, but now their kids are dead, so are things any better? No.

4. Did you like the allusions to King Lear, Wuthering Heights, and fairy tales, or did you find them distracting? I always like book references. It’s kind of my thing. I didn’t explore the connections between the plot and these classic stories much, so I won’t go there. But it’s always nice to have characters who read and who use those books to make sense of their own world. Because in a way, isn’t that what we do?

5. The Sinclairs own their own island and have named all the houses on it. Clairmont, Windmere, Red Gate, and (gag) Cuddledown. Would you ever name your home? Maybe. I like the idea of having an estate with a name. It would be better if it also included some land, maybe a couple other things situated nearby. Just so it isn’t pretentious. I think of farms a lot when I hear of homes with names, simply because I live in Lexington, KY, home of tons of horse farms. But yeah, I think I would name my home. Something good though. And not in a pretentious way.

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10 Comments

Filed under Fellowship of the Worms, Reviews

10 responses to “Review and Fellowship of the Worms Discussion – We Were Liars

  1. I love your discussion! I agree that Cady saw them because her brain needed a way to help her remember. Lockhart did a great job with that because it seemed totally plausible to me that the teens would hang out by themselves all summer.

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    • For real! I thought it was really plausible that the teens would be by themselves. Now, I did notice once or twice that the adults never mentioned them or were in the same place as them or talked to them, but I didn’t think about it too long.

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  2. It’s interesting to read your thoughts! I already knew the twist when I read this book, but I went ahead with it because I wanted to see how well Lockhart pulled it off. To be honest, it just didn’t work for me. The entire plot could’ve been solved if Cady had just googled herself, and many aspects of the “accident” just didn’t add up. It’s a very interesting premise, though. It’s a tough one to do well.

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    • I wonder how well the Sinclair family covered it up, though? Granted, the fire would have made the news, whether as accident or something more. So yes, I agree that the book could have ended there had she thought of that. But given that she didn’t, I think it’s plausible enough. The stress on the brain could easily have fueled the amnesia and the hallucinations.

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      • Yeah, I don’t question the amnesia or hallucinations. I question how “quickly” she healed (for that type of injury, particularly with chemicals) or any evidence of an investigation.* A cover-up is an interesting thought, but wealth didn’t protect Michael Skakel or Edward Kennedy from criminal charges or press in real life. It’s amazing that Cady would send emails and use a laptop, but never google herself. To me, it felt like Lockhart took the easy way out by avoiding these issues.

        It’s certainly an interesting book, though. I”ve enjoyed talking about it. 🙂

        *I talk about the injury and the healing a bit more in the comments to my post.

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        • It’s true, I would have Googled myself. I hadn’t thought about some of the things you brought up. I’m willing to overlook these things, though, just because the book made me feel crazy and unsure – all the things I’m sure Cady was feeling.

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  3. What a fabulous post! I completely agree with you about the adult Sinclair women. Squabbling over money because they’d wasted trust funds and didn’t want to work. I’m really glad you enjoyed the book, thank you SO MUCH for participating in the discussion!

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    • They all seemed really manipulative, petty, and shallow to me. I found nothing about them redeemable. Thanks for hosting, as always! I plan of trying to join up anytime that I can! You’re a great host – and you come up with the best discussion questions!

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  4. I actually have a signed copy of this book on my shelf and still haven’t gotten to reading it! Hopefully I’ll be able to hop in on the next Fellowship of the Worms discussion. I’ve been surprised by how much I like unreliable narrators. When I first heard about the idea, I thought it would just be frustrating to not be sure exactly what’s going on, but I’ve been blown away by how effectively it can be used to build suspense.

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    • That’s exactly how I feel! It makes me feel chaotic, like I don’t have the control I like to cling to so tightly, but at the same time it makes the experience more authentic, because I’m not privy to secret knowledge that the narrator doesn’t have. And it makes for some genuinely great plot twists. The great thing about We Were Liars is that it’s fairly short and easy to get through, so it doesn’t suck up too much time from anything else.

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