We were liars - E. Lockhart

We are liars
We are beautiful and privileged
We are cracked and broken
A tale of love and romance
A tale of tragedy

Which are lies?
Which is truth?
You decide

Emily Jenkins, pen name E. Lockhart, is considered as being one of the best fiction writers writing today. With her young-adult novel We were liars she created a book which is full of surprises, with a sense of complete mystery and suspicion which keeps the reader guessing throughout the novel. It is only in the very last pages where is hidden the answer and before reaching this moment, the reader has to try to piece things together.
The plot is about Cadence, the main character, who suffers from memory problems. The book opens with Cadence who remembers waking up in the water after hitting her head. However, she doesn't know anything and nobody wants to tell her what happened.
All in all the novel We were liars is well written. Unfortunately it is not my sort of book. The story was a bit too depressive for me, but if you like drama, poetic writing and mystery, I would recommend you this book.

The Liars

Cadence / Cady (The Eastmans)

  • The narrator, she tells us the story
  • Unreliable narrator : she doesn't remember what happened
  • First grand-child (p.7)
  • She is supposed to inherit everything
  • She is in love with Gat (summer 14 p.13)
  • After the accident she gives her things away: punishment or to be closer at Gat
  • She is a tragic student (she missed too much at school)
  • She colored her hair black
  • She thinks people are keeping secrets from her and that her mother carries too much about her
  • After the accident she gives up her hobbies (tennis, soccer)
  • She asks her mom all the time what happened but she can't remember (she notes what happened)
  • She is a manifestation of a ghost: people (her cousins) think that she is drug addicted because she is dressed in black, she has been sick because of headache about to years
  • She does things on her own but thinks that the other Liars are there: it is her imagination (p.118)
  • Connection to the fire is kind of a reminder (p.119)
  • She is finally able to face the truth so she starts to remember with the 'ghosts'

Gat (The Dennises)

  • Indian origin
  • Ed's nephew, Gat's father died so Ed looks after him
  • Before Gat arrived, the others weren't Liars (p.7)
  • He is not a Sinclair, he comes from a normal family who is not rich
  • He is different, he is not a racist like the Sinclair family
  • Unlike the Sinclairs, Gat shows emotions (pp.28-29): Gat proves that you can show your emotions, that there are other ways to deal with things and not ignore them, there are always bad things happening but it's how life works
  • He brings the other back to the real world
  • He reminds them that there are people who are not like the Sinclair family (p.18)
  • He wants to make people think

Relationship between Cadence and Gat

  • Their relation started summer 14
  • Beginning summer 15, Cadence looks forward to see Gat (p.15-16)
  • She arrives and sees that Gat has a girlfriend (p.15-16)
  • Gat then cheats on Raquel with Cadence (p.21)
  • Cadence really believes that they love each other (p.24)
  • Granddad doesn't want that Gat and Cadence are a couple and therefore wants that Gat stays away
  • Gat then definitely cheats on Raquel (p.30-31)
  • Cadence and Gat doesn't see each other for two years
  • The Liars aren't there when Cadence arrives on the island
  • Gat starts to distant Cadence (p.104)
  • He tells her that he had a girlfriend (p.136)
  • Gat builds her a new swing
  • They come up with the plan to burn Clairmont down (p.180)
  • Gat apologizes all the time
  • The ghost starts to disappear because Cadence remembers things (p.190 ; p.194)

Johnny (The Dennises)

  • He has got a brother Will
  • Has the same age as Cady
  • Went to a private school
  • He is the first grand-son
  • He is a bit spoilt
  • He didn't like playing when he was young

Mirren (The Sheffields)

  • Curiosity, rain and sugar (Cadence's description)
  • Seems to be a really nice girl

The Sinclairs

Harris, Tipper, and dogs Prince Philip and Fatima


  • Harris inherit a fortune when he was young (p.6)
  • He failed to have a son
  • He sees himself as the boss of the family (p.108)
  • He build a house for punishing himself because he thinks that it is his fault that the other died (he manipulated them)
  • He doesn't remember things or recognize people, he becomes demented
  • Old traditional and successful family
  • He is a democratic and they are racist: they want their family to stay white and therefore really refused that Ed is part of the family
  • He's a difficult men
  • He has got motto's (p.100 ; p.109 ; p.111)
  • He doesn't care who gets hurt
  • He tries to manipulate the family (p.98 ; pp.157-159 ; pp.160-161 ; p.163 ; p.172 ; pp.175-176)


  • She is a trophy wife (had no real job, money comes from Harris)
  • She married a rich, old man
  • She organized charity projects (p.27)
  • She died in October
  • She kept the family together (p.155-156)
  • She had a positive influence

The Eastmans

Penny, Cadence and dogs Bosh, Grendel and Poppy

Penelope / Penny

  • She is Cady's mom
  • Her husband is Sam, a teacher of war history at University who left her when Cady was fifteen (p.4)
  • Dog breed (Golden Retrievers)
  • Trust fund is how she gets her money
  • Tries to manipulate Harris with Cady (like others to inherit)
  • The accident had a big influence on her: Penny was a selfish person who tried to manipulate others but later on she's worried about Cady

The Dennises

Carrie, Johnny, Will, Ed and Gat


  • Her husbands: first William Dennis and then Ed (with Ed no children)
  • Two children: Johnny and Will (10 years who has nightmares)
  • Had started a jewelry boutique but it failed (p.159)
  • Trust fund
  • She fights for her part of inherit
  • At night she sometimes wanders the island and the next day she doesn't remember (p.78 ; p.90)
  • She also seems to see Johnny (like Cadence)

The Sheffields

Bess, Mirren, Taft, Liberty and Bonnie


  • Brody Sheffield was her husband, but she left him
  • She has four children: eldest is Mirren, then the twins Liberty and Bonnie and at least Taft (who gets ten at summer 15)
  • Taft is afraid: Cuddledown is haunted (pp.58-59)
  • Bonnie is obsessed with dead things, she is fascinated by the death (p.67 ; p.88)
  • Liberty is warmer, she carries about Cady, talks to her
  • Bess is always cleaning (p.66)
  • She drinks to much and lost her daughter
  • She takes care of Harris
  • She wants Windemere and therefore fights for it

The emotions

(pp.5-6 ; pp.28-29 ; p.33 ; p.35 ; pp.63-64 ; p.73 ; p.77 ; p.107 ; p.135 ; p.180 ; p.188 ; pp.208-209 ; p.212 ; p.217)

How does Cady relay her emotions in each case?

  • It is like her father shot her when he left them, she uses metaphors
  • She melts from solid to liquid
  • She is often sad but isn't allowed to show it
  • She feels like she loses all the time blood
  • She describes herself as a witch
  • Gat shows her that you have to deal with your emotions: being with Gat is positive, he is like a doctor on an emotional level
  • Realization of what she has done: she becomes frozen and solid
  • Gat supports her, he tried to help her
  • She gives free rain to her emotions when she says goodbye to the Liars

At the beginning, Cadence resorts to this technique because she isn't allowed to be in touch with her emotions and therefore she doesn't know how to deal with it. She is full of emotions but cannot show them.

When Cady becomes emotional, her mother shows us her typical reaction. She says that Cady has to be normal. She acts like that because in the Sinclair family they don't have problems and they don't show weakness. Their life is perfect and Cadence isn't allowed to cause a scene.

The accident

What does Cadence first tell us about the accident?

For some reasons the cousins weren't there. The Sinclair elders found her and she must hit her head on a rock because she can't remember anything. Furthermore, Cadence tells us that she had breathing problems.

Even if Cadence is unreliable, we as readers are forced to believe Cadence because she is our narrator and we don't have another version of the accident.

How does Cadence go about uncovering the truth?

At the beginning, Cadence asks the Liars but they aren't allowed to tell her the truth so she has to uncover the truth on her own. It is even the doctor's order. What she remembers is a fire , that a house was burning and that she was part of the group who sat the fire. (p.151)
Then some kind of memories keeps flashing up in Cady's mind. She saw Carry crying and wearing Johnny's coat. She remembers the fire that they have set, that she has killed the dogs and her cousins and she sees her granddad looking at the fire, at the house which is burning. (p.76 ; pp.143-144)

What do we learn about Cady's amnesia?

Her mother tells her all the time what happened but the next day Cady can't remember it. Therefore she writes it down the last time but even when she knows the truth she is unable to remember what happened. She has to work it out, she has to put all the informations together bit by bit and only then she can remember. She learns about the fire and talks to her mom about it.