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Family of Liars by E Lockhart - Review

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Where did I get it? I bought it a few weeks ago. I read We Were Liars ages ago and wanted to read this prequel. I read We Were Liars before I started this blog, but believe me when I say that when the twist was revealed I wanted to throw the book out of the window. I absolutely hadn't seen it coming. I've read a couple of other books by E Lockhart since We Were Liars, and enjoyed them. So of course I ordered this! 

What's it about? It's set on the same island as We Were Liars and is narrated by Cadence's aunt, Carrie, when she is a teenager. Her parents are Harris and Tipper, white upper class WASPy types, who have more money than sense and who are extremely overprivileged. They have four daughters - Carrie, Penny, Bess, and Rosemary. The summer that Carrie is sixteen, Rosemary drowns off the island. She is just ten years old and Carrie grieves deeply for her, but the rest of the family seems to have forgotten about her. In winter the next year, Carrie has surgery on her jaw which gets infected and means that she stays at home with her mother for a couple of months. It also starts in her a codeine addiction which, as she says, will take her a few stays in rehab and a few years to get over. The book does go forwards in time to after the events of We Were Liars (no spoilers!) but mostly concentrates on the year Carrie is sixteen and then the following summer, when she is seventeen.

Rosemary turns up as a ghost in Carrie's room, wanting attention from Carrie. She tries to show herself to Tipper too, but Tipper banishes her. One night in Tipper's room, Carrie sees a strand of black pearls, which she is given permission to wear, and a photograph of Tipper and a man, who has had his face scratched from the photo. Carrie is intrigued and tries to work out who the man is.

Meanwhile Harris' brother Dean turns up with his children, Yardley and Tomkin. Carrie and Yardley are a similar age and usually hang out together all summer. However, Yardley has brought her boyfriend George with her and two of his friends, Major and Pfeff. The summer tumbles away from all of them, and secrets have to be hidden. As Carrie says, the Sinclairs were always liars...

I loved being back on Beechwood Island with the Sinclair family. They're all just quite horrible, and I love it. There's so much tradition which must be upheld at all costs, and everyone is just out for themselves. I did feel sorry for Carrie and really liked seeing the events of this summer from her point of view. 

What age range is it for? Fourteen plus 

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? There's a subplot, yes 

Are any main characters people of colour? No 

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? I think Carrie's addiction counts here - it's not graphic most of the time, but it is there. 

Is there any sex stuff? Yes, and trigger warning for sexual assault. 

Are drugs mentioned or used? Yes, abuse of prescription drugs 

Is there any talk of death? Yes, it's quite graphic in places 

Are there swear words? No 


What criticisms do I have? Almost none, I could stay in this world forever 

Would I recommend the book? Yes, but read We Were Liars first! 

Why did I choose to read it at this point in life? Could I resist it?? No! 


What do I think of the cover? It's perfect, dreamy and a little unsettling 

How many stars? Four out of five. I just enjoyed it a lot. 

Where is the book going now? I'll keep it I think!

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