E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars (YA)

“Silence is a protective coating over pain.”

The Sinclairs are always perfect. No matter what happens, they are a perfect, beautiful family. Nothing is ever wrong, even when the opposite is true. Problems just don’t exist…not for them. They believe that strength comes from burying issues and not dwelling on them. That having feelings makes a person weak. They have turned living in ignorance into an art form, and are content with such. But, is that really possible? Is that really the healthy way to live your life? There comes a point when you can no longer bury your pain. What happens then?

In E. Lockhart’s novel, We Were Liars, Cadence returns to Beechwood Island for the summer after a season’s absence due to debilitating migraines. Having no memory of the accident from summer fifteen (she is now seventeen), Cadence hopes that being around the Liars – Gat and her cousins, Johnny and Mirren – will enable her to learn the truth about what happened. There is only one thing standing in her way. The Sinclairs. Cadence is a Sinclair, and the Sinclairs have no problems. When everyone is refusing to talk about the accident, will Cadence stay in the state of not-knowing forever, or will coming back to Beechwood Island be the key to unlocking the memories that her mind (and everyone else) has tried hard to keep buried.

“Sometimes I wonder if reality splits…[if] there are parallel universes in which different events happen to the same people. An alternate choice has been made, or an accident has turned out differently. Everyone has duplicates of themselves in these other worlds. Different selves with different lives, different luck.”

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Tana French’s The Secret Place

“It hits her at the bus stop, in the cool-edged morning air. At first she thinks she actually is sick, that what she’s doing has called down some curse on her and now all her lies come true. She hasn’t felt it in so long and it tastes different now. It used to be vast and dark-bloody; this is metallic, this is alkaline, this is like scouring powder eating through your layers one by one. It’s fear. Holly is afraid.”

 

As a huge fan of Tana French’s work, I was extremely excited for the arrival of her fifth novel, The Secret Place, preordering it months in advance of its recent publication. For those who are unfamiliar with her work, I’d like to say that French is unlike most of the writers out there. Not only is her writing amazing, but her novels as a whole are as well. She has a way with language and story telling that is truly atmospheric and at times haunting. More than once have I gone to sleep after reading one of her novels and woken up in a fit of panic. They’re just that good. Although she tries a somewhat different approach in her newest novel that I am less than fond of, the core of her remains the same.

The Secret Place tells the story of a murder that happened at an all girls’ school, and the investigation of it a year later. Detective Stephen Moran is brought back as the main character (this time) who leads the investigation, as well as Holly Mackey and her father Frank – all of whom were in French’s third, and arguably best novel to date, Faithful Place. The novel opens with Holly paying a visit to Detective Moran at the Dublin police department where she produces a photograph that she found on a bulletin board at her school, St. Kilda’s. The photograph is of Chris Harper, the boy who was murdered on the grounds of St. Kilda’s the previous year. And there is a caption. It reads: I Know Who Killed Him. Moran brings the new evidence to Antoinette Conway, one of the detectives who had originally worked the case. Together, they return to St. Kilda’s in hopes of finally solving the murder…but are they too late?

How far would you go to protect your friends, knowing that they were somehow involved in a crime? Would you stay silent forever, or would you find a way to get it out in the open, to once and for all uncover the whole truth? These are the questions that circulate from beginning to end in The Secret Place, questions that ring true for many of us. We befriend others who we have things in common with, and, as our bonds deepen, our loyalties toward them increases as well. But…how far would you go? Some say that no line exists for true friendship, but that is just not possible. There is always a line. Told in alternating narratives between past and present, French weaves a tale of friendship where loyalty is so strong that it is the only thing that stands in the way of solving the murder.

 

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Inspiration From Your Adolescence

I don’t know what possessed me to do this, but recently, I paid homage to my youth by re-watching all six season of Dawson’s Creek. It was one of my favorite shows back in the day, and to be frank, still kind of is. One of the things that I really love about this show, is how profound it is. There will be scenes with all of this amazing dialogue that you can really take with you and use in your own life, dialogue that can change your whole way of thinking about a situation. I realize that this is also a reason why people criticized the show, that the dialogue is not how anyone speaks in real life and that it took away from the genuinity about it. In some ways, they are half true. The speech that is used, especially in the earlier seasons is a bit unrealistic, and I could see how that could confuse some people, or send others running for the dictionary, but why does that have to be a bad thing and take away the meaning of the show? If the words have the ability to change your life, I think that is a good thing.

I remember watching this show as a teenager and feeling comforted but not completely understanding why. Growing up, my home-life was not great, and I used the show as an escape, imagining myself being there, kind of like what I always did (and still do) with books. After re-watching the series, I realized that Dawson’s Creek was so much more than a get-a-way: if you let it, it actually has the power to enlighten and inspire you…as an adolescent and as an adult. It touches deep into your core, saying the things that you’re either too afraid to hear, or too afraid to say. And, although I couldn’t quite appreciate its greatness back then, I have no doubt in my mind that, on some level, I knew it was special. Dawson always said that he believed that you could find the answers to all of life’s questions in a movie. I’m not sure if that is really true, but, I think that this show succeeds in doing that in some ways.

As I was watching, I joked to Melissa that in some ways it felt like a therapy session; full of advice that (seemed) catered towards me. And, I think that, if given a chance, it can do the same thing for anyone regardless of your age. It’s one of those shows that can transcend the generation gap. The quote below is truly amazing.

“There are people in my life who are gone now. People I miss very much, and people who I am haunted by in different ways. But whether we’re separated by death or merely distance, I know that they’re still with me because I keep them in my heart. The truth is, in time, that’s all we’re going to be to each other anyway, this population of memories…some wonderful and endearing, some less so. But taken together, these memories help make us who we are and who we will be.”

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