Today we met in the Morris County Library conference room to talk about the YA novel everyone has been buzzing about, We Were Liars. We had our biggest discussion yet, but there’s still room for more of you! We’d love to have you.
Overall, people really liked this book, with many giving it 4 or even 5 starts. I don’t know if that’s happened before, so this was a definite favorite. A couple of people gave it a low of 3, mostly because even the significant characters were fairly flat and undeveloped. However, a case could be made for that actually being the way teenagers actually view other kids their age who they only see every summer.
First, we will not spoil the ending of the book, so don’t worry! If you haven’t read it yet, it’s a doozy, and no one saw it coming. Aside from the ending and its emotional impact, we discussed the themes of wealth in society. Cadence and her cousins are from the “keep a stiff upper lip” upper crust of society, and nothing breaks into that shell. As teenagers, they rebel against it, of course.
We also discussed the recurring re-written fairy tales throughout the book, and what to make of them. Most of our readers really liked them, and at least one person suggested it was a great addition to the “unreliable narrator” aspect in Cadence.
One question we never really answered is: Why do they call themselves the Liars? It’s clear that Cady is lying to herself after the events of Summer Fifteen, and her family members are lying by omission, but why do the four teenagers call themselves Liars? Let us know in the comments if you have any ideas!
There was some discussion of the similarities to Wuthering Heights and King Lear, and one patron also suggested some similarities to Lord of the Flies.
Finally, without giving too much away, we disagreed on whether the tragic event hinted out throughout was actually realistic. Some people said yes, and some people found it difficult to believe.
Readers definitely appreciated Cady’s figurative-as-literal narration – at many times throughout the book, she describes things as actually happened that are clearly metaphorical. This unreliable narration makes it difficult to know what is real, and that adds a great deal to the novel.
The biggest critique of the book was, as mentioned above, the flatness of most of the characters. Cady and Gat were the most fleshed out, but even Mirren and Jimmy seemed one-dimensional for most of the readers.
Still, we all really enjoyed this book, and now we can’t wait for The Good Lord Bird, coming up in July!