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(COLUMN) Rice: Just Another Gal from Casper – Reading ‘We Were Liars’

Kate Rice


Sometimes, you read a book and marinate in the residue for years after. 

One of those books for me is e. lockhart’s We Were Liars. I fell in love with the story and the way it was told. Not that it’s a happy story…

The Sinclairs are a wealthy family— so much so, they own their own small island. Every summer, they gather for weeks; the aunts and cousins and, at times, friends. To be a Sinclair means to be perfect, even if you have to pretend. Even if you have to lie. 

The story’s told from the oldest cousin, Cady’s, point of view. In the present, at 17, she’s returning to the island after a couple of years away. Something happened during year 15 (when she was 15 years old) that she doesn’t remember. And no one’s talking. 

She holes up in one of the beach houses with her cousins Mirren and Johnny, and their friend Gat, who’s the son of the man one of the aunts is dating. Gat doesn’t come from wealth, and is very socially and politically aware. Through the years Cady and the other cousins begin to resent their family’s wealth, and the aunts bickering about who inherits what. What happened in year 15 because of that resentment slowly unfolds over the course of the book. 

I love the way this book’s written, the fairytale metaphors that advance the story, and the way the characters read like actual people. And the ending? Mind-blowing, heartbreaking — it’s what makes this one of the best books I’ve ever read.

This year, a surprise prequel (a surprise to me, anyway) was released: Family of Liars. It focuses on the aunts when they were younger, and drops more fabulous fairy tale metaphors and juicy family secrets. We get to know eldest sister Carrie, her younger sisters (both living and deceased) and their parents, too. Due to facial reconstruction surgery (necessary only to recreate the strong family jawline her father wishes her to have) and complications during recovery, Carrie downs pills like candy. And when a group of boys vacations with them one summer, the sisters’ loyalties are put to the test.

The residue of this one didn’t saturate me quite as much as We Were Liars, but it’s still a really, really great read. Great characters, great story — and more “what the heck just happened?” moments. Read these books in order of release, not chronological order, or else the stories won’t hit as hard, and you definitely don’t want any spoilers. 

We Were Liars and Family of Liars are staying on my shelves forever. Wanna put ’em on your shelves? Buy ’em at Wind City Books in downtown Casper. Stop into Wind City Books when you’re out shopping local this holiday season. They have tons of great stuff. Looking for Mystery? Children’s books? Sci-Fi? You’re good. Poetry? Short Stories? Biographies? They’ve got those, too. And a ton of other categories, all neatly shelved for your perusing pleasure. I walk out with at least three or four books every time I’m there. Prefer perusing from home? Visit windcitybooks.com