3 Sentence Summary
“We Were Liars” by E. Lockhart is a captivating young adult novel that delves into the secrets of a wealthy family who spends their summers on a private island. The story follows Cady, a teenager on the cusp of adulthood, as she recounts the events of her past. The novel is a mystery that keeps readers guessing until the very end.
Summary Read Time: Less than 4 minutes
Actual Book Length: 242
First Published in: 2014
Below is the detailed yet quick summary of the book:
E Lockhart tells the story of Cady, a nearly 18-year-old girl who is a member of the wealthy Sinclair family. The Sinclair family owns an island called Beechwood, which has four houses that are shared by Cady’s mother and aunts. Cady spends her summers on the island with her friends Johnny, Mirren, and Gat, who are known as “the Liars.” As the story progresses, Cady and Gat fall in love, but their relationship is complicated by the ongoing family drama and the sudden death of Tipper.
During one summer, Cady experiences a traumatic event which leaves her with migraines and no memory of what happened. Despite her attempts to reconnect with her friends, they do not respond, leaving Cady feeling hurt and confused. Gat, despite his professed love for her, simply disappears from her life. Cady is left to piece together the events of that fateful summer and come to terms with the aftermath of her trauma.
At the age of 17, Cady feels well enough to return to Beechwood for the summer. Her mother is controlling and insists that she have dinner at Clairmont every evening. Cady’s family refuses to tell her what happened during the summer of her 15th year and claims that the doctors advised them that it would be better if she remembered it on her own. With this mystery looming, Cady rejoins her friends Johnny, Mirren, and Gat, who are camping at Cuddledown and keeping their distance from the adults. Cady and Gat rekindle their love, as if nothing ever disrupted it.
As time goes on, Cady begins to remember the events of “summer fifteen.” Initially, she recalls becoming angry with her aunts for arguing over the division of the family property, which led her to inspire the group of friends known as the Liars to burn down Clairmont, where Harris, the family patriarch, was living. She was disgusted by Harris’ manipulation of his daughters and the behavior of her aunts, who she saw as petty and greedy.
However, there is more to the story. Cady also remembers that her good friends, the other three Liars, died in the fire and that she was likely responsible for their deaths. While her friends were pouring gas and throwing matches in the basement and upper stories of the house, Cady lit the fire on the first floor, but she did so too soon, before her friends could escape the flames. They perished in the blaze and have since appeared to her as ghosts.
This was the great tragedy that no one wanted to tell Cady, and she eventually discovers it on her own. She is deeply saddened by the events, but she learns valuable lessons from them about how to live her life.