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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

The thrilling prequel to the TikTok phenomenon and #1 New York Times bestseller We Were Liars takes readers back to the story of another summer, another generation, and the secrets that will haunt them for decades to come. A windswept private island off the coast of Massachusetts. A hungry ocean, churning with secrets and sorrow. A fiery, addicted heiress. An irresistible, unpredictable boy. A summer of unforgivable betrayal and terrible mistakes. Welcome back to the Sinclair family. They were always liars.…

Family of Liars

by E. Lockhart

Overall Book Review:

Buckle up, because this book is a bit of a bumpy ride, in all of the best ways! It’s been quite a few years since I read We Were Liars, and this book is the prequel to that so unfortunately I may have missed some key connections between the two books, but I guess that means I’ll have to read them both again, which I won’t complain about! 

From what I recall, the tone of this book is very similar to We Were Liars, and by that I mean it’s an intriguing and somewhat lighthearted book, or at least it feels that way, up to a certain point. Family of Liars is set on a private island and centered around the Sinclair family, specifically Carrie. Carrie is the oldest among her sisters and it’s clear that both she and her sisters see her as the glue that holds them together. Summers on the island are a time for family and traditional activities that their mother plans. If this all sounds like a fun book to read then let me tell you, it only gets better. 

The arrival of cousins and an uncle on the island heralds the true beginning of their summer; however, a slight change of plans occurs when they arrive with guests–young, male guests to be specific. Carrie quickly finds herself falling for one of the boys, and though she and her sisters are close, she begins to spend more time with him alone. Boys aren’t the only thing on her mind this summer though. Having glimpsed a mysterious picture among her mother’s jewelry, she decides to do some digging into the past, paying no heed to her mother’s dismissal of her questions about it. 

Carrie’s narration of this book was spot on and it was very easy to slip into the mindset of a young adult perched on the edge of maturity. Unfortunately, Carrie, being the eldest sister, feels she must bear the weight of some of the heavier things that occur over the course of the summer. As the title alludes to, her family has many secrets tied up in lies and she slowly begins to realize that what she has always trusted was the truth may be very far from it. 

I’ve heard different opinions on We Were Liars, from readers hating on it to readers loving it. Personally, I loved it and this prequel as well. It was fun to vicariously live a life of luxury, and sunny beaches even if only for a few hundred pages and I’m sure I will revisit the two books sooner than later.

Review of a Digital Advance Reading Copy from Random House Children’s Books

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language: 29 religious exclamations; 4 mild obscenities; 3 religious profanities; 8 derogatory names; 1 scatological words; 5 offensive hand gestures; 1 F-Word derivative.

Violence/Gore: A reference is made to the day when a young girl drowned; the story of Cinderella is referenced, mentioning how the stepsisters tried to fit into a shoe that wasn’t theirs by cutting off a toe, etc.; a reference is made to a tragedy occurring where children died of sudden illness; a story is mentioned about a man who killed many of his wives and their bodies were later found, some blood is mentioned; a brief mention is made of a story involving an angry man who cut off a woman’s hand, the man is later mentioned to be killed; several minors find a body in a brief scene, the board that was used to hit him over the head is mentioned as well as some blood; a decision is made to hide the a body in the ocean rather than calling authorities; a brief scene is described where minors dump the body of the dead person into the ocean; a mention is made of worrying someone may be a harm to themselves; a character briefly recalls the night they murdered a person who was hurting a family member, mentions of the board that was used to hit him over the head and the aftermath are briefly reported.

Sex/Nudity: A girl thinks about boys and how she has never held hands with or kissed one; a girl mentions seeing her sisters kissing boys at school; an urgent interest in sex is made reference to by a minor girl; a minor imagines what it might be like to make out with a boy; a girl discovers a picture hidden among her mother’s belongings and imagines what it might be of, as she only saw the edge, speculates it may be her mother and father naked; a boy changing his clothes in another room says that he doesn’t want anyone to come in and see him naked; a girl flops onto the ground and her skirt rides up, boys are mentioned to look at her upper legs as this happens; a girl relays the idea that she plans to enjoy summer and not get pregnant; a girl sees her sister kissing and embracing a boy she likes; a minor girl kisses a boy and he slides his hand up her waist and chest in a brief scene; a girl references sleeping with a boy; a sexual reference is made in regards to two minors possibly being sexually active; a boy mentions he is gay; a girl tries not to look at a shirtless boys chest; a minor girl is asked by a minor boy to go to his room and she agrees, they undress and kiss, touch each other, snuggle and spoon, the girl stops things before they go any further in a brief scene; a brief scene occurs where a minor couple undress in the ocean and kiss; a girl mentions that she is attracted to girls; a minor girl reports that a boy tried to force himself on her even after she said no.

Mature Subject Matter:

Loss of a loved one; sexual identity; divorce, addiction; date rape; death.

Alcohol/Drug Use:

Adults are mentioned to drink wine; minors steal a bottle of wine to drink; minors drink beer; a bottle of whiskey is mentioned to be in a minors room; a minor takes codeine and her parents prescription sleeping pills, is also mentioned to drink mixed drinks after taking the pills; narcotic addiction is referred to; minors drink mixed drinks.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

Books and reading have always been an important part of my life. When I was very young, my grandma was the library director at our local public library. Years later, after she had retired, I became a librarian at the same library and worked there for several years before taking a part-time job at a local coffee shop, which gives me more time to do what I love, to read and to review books! A few of my favorite authors are Aimee Bender, Diane Chamberlain, and Curtis Sittenfeld however, I will read almost any book I come across! In my spare time you can find me reading (of course), volunteering at a wildlife animal rehab, or hanging out with my two house rabbits.