Since this blog is supposed to be about reading the Books on the Dymocks 2017 Top 101, I’m so glad I can finally write about the first one I’ve finished.
Book 1: We Were Liars (E. Lockhart)
This was such a great start to reading all of the books on the 101.
If you read nothing else of the post, the take away is this one is definitely worth the investment of time (and it’s nice and short so shouldn’t take too much of it!)
When I picked this as one of the first books I’d read from the list I hadn’t heard anything about it. I didn’t really get into the book until halfway, but that was largely my fault as I found myself reading only snippets here and there in very short snatches of time I was able to find (so I would recommend trying to get a good chunk into it to make sure it’s got you sucked in). It’s been a busy week on account of the better half writing off his motorcycle (not his fault and he’s very lucky to escape with only scratches and bruises!). On top of that, the new addition of a puppy to the family has definitely busied things up even more (I’m now picturing our family of 4 humans and one puppy living cosily in one bedroom of a three bedroom house each night for the next little while, given we all start out separately and end up in our room, mostly all of us in the one bed – perhaps we should just downsize the house!)
Back to the book. When I was almost halfway through the book, I thought it was just about the story of Cadence and her struggle to remember an accident she had during her 15th Summer on her family island with her mother, aunties, cousins and grandfather. She suffers debilitating health ramifications as well as almost complete memory loss following the accident and cannot recall any of Summer 15. She struggles to understand why her family hasn’t kept in touch with her during her recovery and she is unable to visit the island for the next two years. When Cadence does finally return to the island, it seems a changed place. There is a new mansion after her grandfather rebuilt his house and her ‘Liars’ (actually her cousins and one nephew (Gat) of her almost Step Uncle) are acting just a little differently towards her. She spends her time trying to piece together her memory and how it relates to the actions of her family (particularly Gat, who she very quickly adores) around her, while they are treading carefully to not mention anything about Summer 15 (this is where is started to get intriguing).
At the halfway mark I realised there was a lot more going on in this story. I had been struggling to be pulled in until this point, and then it was as if someone had pulled back the curtain and I was forced to finish the book in a single sitting as I simply couldn’t put it down – forget sleep (this was night two with the puppy – If only I’d known that the first night of having the puppy at home and his lack of whining and crying during the night was just a fluke, I would have attempted to bank some sleep!) . Her Liars became so much more complex and their group dynamic completely drew me in. Sitting here now thinking about it, the relationships and discussions Cadence explores as part of her attempt to recover her memory give me goose bumps. What she uncovers during the course of the 17th Summer on the island is astounding. Not just the actual facts of her accident, but what she learns about the individual natures of her cousins, aunties and how they really treat each other when under financial stress.
One key theme resonated with me: how children act when they are expecting to inherit their future financial security. Like many families, they maintain a facade of happiness but as it becomes clear their inheritance is not guaranteed, their bickering increases exponentionally and they soon become so desperate they attempt to force the cousins to manipulate their grandfather according to their mothers’ will. They were greedy, desperate and often untruthful – perhaps that’s where the title is derived (I finished the book ultimately unsure as to why Cadence groups her cousins as her ‘Liars’). They begin to tear their own family apart all in the pursuit of easy money. It was an interesting read to see how the strains and stresses of the mothers can affect their children. Sometimes parents can use their children for particular gain – be it intentional or unintentional and in this book, we really see just how devastating the ramifications of these bad behaviours can be for kids – I suppose many of us are guilty of this but if it gets more serious than utilising a screaming child to jump a toilet queue – that’s a problem!
Just to reiterate – Hang in there on this one – it’s well worth it !