The Sinclairs are part of the beautiful people. They are wealthy, privileged, untouchable. They are all tall and blond, athletic, with toothy smiles. Harris and Tipper Sinclair had three beautiful daughters, Carrie, Bess, and Penny, and these three girls grew up to have children of their own who were taught never to fail, or at least, never to reveal it in public.
Harris Sinclair owned a private island off the coast of Massachusetts where his entire clan spent their summers. Every summer, Cadence, the oldest grandchild, and her cousins soaked in the freedom and sweetness of months together, each family in its own mansion, coming together for meals and family gatherings.
Somehow, though, the fathers all fell away. When they were eight years old, the cousins—Cady, Johnny, and Mirren—were joined by Gat, the son of Carrie’s new boyfriend and Johnny’s best friend. Harris and Tipper did not approve. Gat was not tall and blond; he was dark, and his last name was Patil. The four children were the best of friends, though, and they called themselves the Four Liars.
By the time she was fifteen, Cady was sure that she was in love with Gat. She spent her entire school year looking forward to summer, when she could see him again. This summer was different, though. Gat was confusing in his attentions to her. Could he have a girlfriend at home? Furthermore, the mothers were being set against one another by Harris, now that Granny Tipper was gone. He wondered aloud about his estate and how he would dispose of it, and the mothers started drinking a lot and fighting.
And then something happened that changed everything. Cady can’t remember what it was. Her mother found her on the beach in her underclothes, lying halfway underwater in shock. She spent time in the hospital and began having migraines. The next summer, Cady is packed off for a European tour with her estranged father, even though she wants to go to the island. The more she tries to figure out what happened, the worse her headaches become.
Lockhart has written a novel that explores the intricacies of family relationships, both the bright and beautiful elements and the unspoken, malignant manipulations. Even after listening to E. Lockhart discuss unreliable narrators at a BEA panel, there was a certain point in this novel at which I was quite sure of the answer to the mystery. I was wrong. You will be, too. Lockhart signed my copy of this novel as she does all the others: “Please lie about this book.” I didn’t lie, but I certainly haven’t told you the whole truth. You’ll have to read it to find out.
Disclaimer: I read a signed copy of this book, given by the author. (Yay!) Opinions are solely my own and do not reflect those of my employer or anyone else.