Cady Sinclair (Eastman) and her extended family have always summered on their private island off the coast of Cape Cod (as super rich families are wont to do, I suppose). Cady spends her days and nights with her cousins Johnny and Mirren and their friend Gat making memories, enjoying each other and giving their group the moniker, The Liars. The Liars are inseparable and seem oblivious to the tensions between their mothers (the three sisters/aunties) and how the grandfather pits the women against each other, using promises of money as bait. Summers have a routine about them and The Liars relish in the simplicity of it all. A romance buds between Cady and Gat (a handsome Indian boy who does not share the same socio-economic status of the very WASPY Sinclairs). This difference is very clear to the Liars but they can shrug those differences off “very easily “(as easily as 15 year olds think you can):
“When we say ‘Shut up, Gat’ that isn’t what we mean at all.”
“What we mean is, we love you. You remind us that we’re selfish bastards. You’re not one of us in that way.”
Gat keeps them grounded (as grounded as you can be on your family’s own damn private island–seriously, I can’t get over it. I want my own island), he doesn’t let them forget that their life on the island is hardly normal…and they like that about him, but wave him off when they don’t want to think about how most of the world lives and behaves. At the end of an idyllic summer with the Liars, a tragic accident occurs. Cady can’t remember much more than a few details, which include hitting her head and the fact that when she needed him most, Gat left her.
After a full year away from the island, Cady returns. Now she is a completely different girl than the Liars (and most of her family) have seen before. She has been donating and giving away most of her possessions. She has dyed her hair black (no longer wearing the signature flaxen tresses of the Sinclairs) and she may or may not have a prescription pill problem due to the traumatic brain injury she sustained that summer two years earlier. While Cady tries to piece together what happened to her that year, she earnestly wants to spend her time with the Liars, and most importantly, understand why Gat left her and determine whether or not they can rekindle what they once had together.
The above synopsis really doesn’t do justice to the actual plot of We Were Liars but to talk about it any further would give too much away. This is by no means the greatest book ever written (I rolled my eyes at the heavy handed comparisons between Gat and Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights) but I did enjoy the writing style–the author uses extreme hyperbole when describing the deep emotions of Cady, and I was intrigued by the mystery of what actually happened that 15th summer. The Liars were well developed characters, I wish the aunts (and perhaps the grandfather/patriarch) had more development to them because while their role in the story is secondary, they do have a major role.