Do you love thrillers? Do you love family drama? Well, then We Were Liars by Columbia grad, E Lockhart, is definitely the book for you! 

Who wants to read a book when the plot twist is spoiled for you? I know it may sound weird, but I always do. I find it fascinating to move backward from the plot twist, looking for clues to what will happen to catalyze such a twist. 

On my ninth-grade hiking trip, my friend Ben and I talked about our favorite books as we trotted down a mountain in the Catskills. After walking for more than 7 hours, we began to discuss what we had read that past summer. Ben had read E Lockhart’s We Were Liars. As he explained the basic plot, I was captivated and when it came to the end as we reached our campsite, I begged him to tell me how the book ended. Though it took some time, he finally compiled and to say that my mind was blown is an understatement. 

As soon as I got back from the trip, I begged my mom to take me to my local bookstore so I could buy the book, which I read in less than 24 hours. However, it wasn’t until last summer when I re-read We Were Liars that I fully appreciated Lockhart’s masterful craftsmanship of writing. 

E. Lockhart is a pen name for Emily Jenkins a graduate of Columbia, who obtained a doctorate in British literature and has taught creative writing at Barnard. She has written many young adult books and many DC graphic novel comics. Her first young-adult book, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks was a finalist for the National Book Award. However, We Were Liars is Lockhart’s most successful masterpiece, as it remained on the New York Times bestseller list for more than six years after its publication. 

Though I won’t spoil the book like Ben did, here is some context on the novel. We Were Liars follows Cadence, a member of the wealthy Sinclair family, as she spends her summer on the family’s private island, Beechwood. Following conflicting timelines of the previous summer and the present, Lockhart skillfully blurs reality when examining the class and family dynamics of the Sinclairs. The vivid image descriptions make the viewer feel just like they are summering with the Sinclairs: From the beauties of the homes that Cadence’s aunts live to the delicious family dinners of lobster. 

A true coming-of-age story that deals with themes of memory, class divides, and the dark side of wealth, Cadence’s story will leave you with your jaw on the floor by the end of the book. And, if you can’t get enough, you can read the prequel that Lockhart published in 2022 that follows Cadence’s Aunt Cady! 

Header image via Author