What does it mean to suffer? I can say one suffers from a health condition but you can also say one suffers from too much power that turns them cold. Is that the same suffering? Or is one truly suffering while the other is enduring what they have?
'"Half the time I hate myself for all the things I've done," says Gat. "But the thing that makes me really messed up is the contradiction: when I'm not hating myself, I feel righteous and victimized. Like the world is so unfair,"' (page 136).
This novel, We Were Liars by E. Lockhart made my mouth drop, my breathing stop, and sobs stream down my face in less than 250 pages. I'm writing this book review literally 10 minutes after finishing the book because I have so many thoughts I need out NOW. A book hasn't made me truly cry or caught me off-guard in a minute. It's not an ending you could guess but definitely one that ties your broken heart back together again. This book is a tragic tale how money hungry eyes send ripple effects of harsh words, tragic events, and suffering.
Summary of We Were Liars
The story is told from Cadence Eastman Sinclair who's from a big and rich family. Her grandpa owns an island where her and her cousins and aunts all spend their summers on. Even though it's in first-person, it's the perfect mix of her thoughts but also the thoughts of others in the book that sometimes I forget it's in first-person. She spends the whole summer every year on their island with her "liars" (Johnny, Gat, and Mirren), dancing, swimming, snorkeling, and laughing. It's the one place for 2 months where they can be whatever and whoever they want, away from their lives back home.
Something happens in the summer she was 15 and she loses her memory because of an accident, suffers from migraines that cause her to be bed ridden, and comes back 2 years later to try and piece what her family has kept hidden from her. Her family is very prestigious, never faltering from smiling and standing straight, and best of all they are PERFECT at hiding who they really are from the world. Her mother always tells her to be normal, don't cause a scene, etc. Her grandpa is really the root of this whole family being crazy because he's rich and all the aunts (his children, Candence's mom) are fighting over who gets what properties, houses, pearls, etc. The grandpa lowkey loves this idea of him GIVING so they should be LUCKY to receive, therefore listening to everything he says or they lose their inheritance.
The writing is beautiful with short chapters and smart metaphors. The author describes Candence's migraines with such gore like someone taking an axe and prying her skull apart but this kind of vulgar metaphor appears throughout the novel to show the true extent of suffering. I find it quite satisfying actually re-reading some of my favorite metaphors once I read the end and pieced things together. The mystery of the novel ties perfectly together at the end and I PROMISE, you will not guess what happens because it's not the usual plot structure or cliche storylines.
There's a story within a story woven through the book, a fairytale that the narrator goes back to dive deeper into her grandpa and his hold over his daughters, and the extent of how much money can pull a family apart.
I've always hated the view of what money is. Money is a house, car, phone, shoes, and essentially what's needed to survive. But it's the people who take that view of money and transform it to greed that causes wars that kill thousands and that leaves children starving in neglected homes. Money itself has no value but what we put on it. So when you have a family that holds money in the highest standards, you cut out room for anything else. The character Gat, isn't a part of the family but actually a friend who's related to the boyfriend of one of the aunts, Carrie. Gat is of Indian heritage and seen more inferior than this super rich family and when he grows older, he has conversations with Candence about how he knows that grandpa sees him inferior. It's triggering how this family's superiority complex is so natural to them they don't even know when they're being racist.
Well, Gat understands the sadness of the world, the unfair cruelty that some own private islands and others don't have working toilets. He's a breath of fresh air in this family so frenzied by wealth and money that they don't see they're destroying themselves.
I loved the connection between the 4 kids/teenagers, Candence, Gat, Johnny, and Mirren, who all refused to help mingle in their families' fights for inheritance and just decided to be teenagers. Candence and Gat have a fling too and it's interesting to see how much their love develops every summer but leaves during the months after. The characters are on tight ropes, balancing each other and keeping themselves afloat.
This story is more than just a mystery of what happened, it's the ugly face of truth in wealth and riches. It shows that fuck tangible items, because those can break and perish away and all you'll be left with is real connections and people. But if you focus all your efforts on these tangible items, there won't be room left in your life for connections. The story shows tragedy as it is, messy and confusing and with never ending sides and reasonings. It shows what it means to suffer, what it means to endure, and what it means to live after tragedy.
The thing about tragedy is it's not the event itself that lingers, it's the effects it has on people's lives that is dreadful. I sit and contemplate what would happen in my moment of death. I would be here one moment and the next I would not, so I wouldn't really know I was dead right? Like if I got hit by a car and died on impact, I would just die and not really have to suffer from that tragic event. The true suffering is on the people around me, where they now feel the extent of my enduring. They suffer without me, while I merely endured death. And I guess that's what I think about when it comes to tragedy. It's not the event, it's what happens after and who it affects.
PLEASE, go read this novel and relish in the moment of when you figure out this dark secret, because I swear if I could erase my memory of this book and reread it for the first time, I WOULD. Hands down, my favorite read of 2020.
Thanks for reading everyone! I'll link my Insta page which has short reviews and cute quotes.