We Were Liars was an absolute young adult sensation back on its release in 2014. But, it’s quirky writing style and off-the-wall twist did divide readers. I was firmly in the love camp, and so when I saw the author was releasing a prequel after almost a decade, I was far too intrigued to pass this up.
In this book, we return to the Sinclair family and their private island, but we’re whisked back in time to the 1980s. We get a glimpse at a summer of the “aunts” of WWL when they were teens, through the eyes of Carrie.
“This is the story of my seventeenth summer. That was the year the boys all came to stay on Beechwood Island. And the year I first saw a ghost.”
Carrie has a lot on her plate in 1985. She’s lost her youngest sister, and is returning to the scene of the crime – the private island where she drowned – for the first time. She’s just undergone fascial reconstructive surgery after caving under the pressure of her family wanting her to look like a perfect Sinclair, with a perfect jawline. She’s struggling with addiction to the drugs she was prescribed in the aftermath of her intense surgery.
And then, her cousin Yardley turns up at the island with three boys in tow. Carrie has never been kissed before this summer – but that’s about to change.
There’s something about this series and Lockhart’s writing – it really whisks me away to a different world, a privileged world, of sun, sea, sand and privilege. But there’s always darkness lurking, and this book is no different to the first in that respect, although it takes a different form and is more of a straightforward teen drama with a less earth-shattering twist.
I think the time between the two novels has allowed the author’s writing to mature and mellow. It’s still beautiful, poetic and melancholy. But it’s slightly less in-your-face melodramatic, something that alienated some readers with the first book. So, I would say, if you didn’t love WWL, you may still want to give this a try. And if you like emotional teen dramas, you could go into this without any knowledge of the previous novel – but be aware that it does spoil its sequel on the first page.
Maybe the author didn’t need to expand on the original, but this book did offer a wonderful burst of nostalgia for many readers. It doesn’t pack the emotional punch of its predecessor, but it does show how the author’s writing has matured, and it stands as a powerful teen drama in its own right.
I received this book in exchange for an honest review. 4/5.