The Sinclairs are a family of liars. They lie about their affairs, about the people they’ve hurt, about their past.
When Carrie Sinclair’s son asks her about the worst thing she has done, she finds herself recounting the events of the summer when she was seventeen.
Narrated in a first-person POV, Family of Liars is a prequel to E. Lockhart’s widely-renowned YA novel, We Were Liars. I’ve read We Were Liars twice and been equally devastated both times by the storytelling.
When authors revisit a series or a world that has been done exceptionally well, I’m always hesitant yet eager when picking up the new book. Because, on the one hand, I love what they’ve written before and am so attached to it.
On the other hand, I don’t want this new novel to change how I perceive that particular world or characters or make me love it any less.
So you can assume how apprehensive I was about picking up Family of Liars.
Thankfully, the author’s writing style is just as engaging (if not more). The quirks that we’ve come to associate with her writing from We Were Liars are present in this book too! So you can expect fairy tale retellings, the usage of keywords to define people/ things, and characters who aren’t what they seem to be.
At once providing us with a deeper glance at the previous generations of Sinclairs and also narrating how tragic some of their lives have been, Family of Liars hooks you in from the start. For some, that could be because you are appalled by the state of things in the Sinclair household. For others, it could be because the hint of mystery is tantalizing enough to keep reading.
If you hated Harris from the first book, you’re going to detest him even more in this one. You’ll understand why the 3 sisters have a brittle relationship, which further impacted their kids’ lives.
In more ways than one, Family of Liars reads just like any other YA summer novel with its temperamental teenagers, summer traditions, island adventures, and more.
It’s heartbreaking how many lives get ruined in the pursuit of prestige. The legacy of the Sinclairs has always been to present a flawless front; to just what extent, you’ll learn in this book.
“Now that I am grown, I think don’t take no for an answer is a lesson we teach boys who would be better off learning that no means no.”
Topics such as substance abuse, attempted rape, ghost hauntings, trauma, homophobia, and parental neglect are explored through this plot.
I initially wondered why Carrie had been chosen as the main character. But now it makes sense.
She is the elder sister, the one who goes to any extent to care for the others. There’s also something in her backstory that makes her the most susceptible to the plot devices the author uses.
When I consider various aspects of the novel separately, I love how most of it’s been executed. Put together, I must say that the book is good but not better than We Were Liars.
“Our family has always loved fairy tales. There is something ugly and true in them. They hurt, they are strange, but we cannot stop reading them, over and over.”
What I love the most about this novel is the writing and the message that it carries – about teenagers, their mentality, their insecurities, and their upbringing.
I read this review mentioning that Yardley deserves her own novel and I completely agree. The Sinclairs are a family full of complexities; of stories yet to be told. I would also love to read a book in the series from Tipper’s perspective.
All in all, I’m so glad to have read Family of Liars! Having revisited the Sinclairs, their island, and their messy downfalls, I can say that this series is one of the most memorable YA series I’ve ever read.