Friday, June 6, 2014

My Summer YA Fix--Or Is It?

Amid all my other reading this summer, several books I've chosen show up on the YA list.  Sometimes the label fits for obvious reasons.  Even if grown women, even menopausal women, read the Twilight  series, they unquestionably target young adults.  Young adult females, to be precise. The same is probably true for lots of the series books.

Other books, though, end up on that list because of a young protagonist--or sometimes because they don't have graphic sex maybe--but they belong on a wider reading list.  The Book Thief, for example, which has returned to the bestseller list now that the movie's out, should be read by all people of all ages.  The protagonist may be young, but the narrator (Death) is almost as old as time.

This week, I read "We Were Liars."  I'd seen the title everywhere. John Green (author of The Fault in Our Stars) wrote the front cover blurb.  Once I started reading (on the elliptical machine), I had a hard time quitting.  I ended up finishing the book in bed when I couldn't sleep. Then I really couldn't sleep.  Now I need someone else to read the book so I can discuss it.

The main characters, one of the "liars," is a teenage girl Cadence Sinclair Easton--Cady--is one of a group of cousins who spend each summer at the family's private island near Martha's Vineyard.  Her maternal grandparents, a wealthy Boston family with a large house showcasing their collections--original New Yorker covers, for example, have built homes for their three daughters as well.  Now that all three marriages have broken up, the daughters still come with all their children in tow.  One of the aunts has a new man in her life, and his nephew Gat has been coming along since they were eight and has become an inseparable part of the "Liars" (a title they give themselves distinguishing them from the "littles"--the younger cousins.)  The Sinclair grandchildren share their family looks--pale blue-eyed blondes.  Gat Patil stands in stark contrast with his dark skin, his Indian features.

The story moves back and forth between summer fifteen and seventeen.  In the first year, after Cady's father leaves them--when Cady and Gat's friendship leaves the cousin-friend zone, Cady suffers a head injury in a swimming accident, resulting in excruciating migraines.  She spends summer sixteen--against her wishes--touring Europe with her father, writing emails to the other Liars, detailing the horrible food she encourages him to eat.  She returns to the island for four weeks in summer seventeen and tries to piece together her lost memories of that earlier summer.  She has also begun a process of giving away her belongings--her pillow to a homeless girl, for instance.

Lockhart uses Cady's contradictions, her hyperbole, to reinforce the "Liars" label, slowly alerting readers that things are seldom all they seem.  Now I need to start back at the beginning to pick up on all the little details I missed the first time through.


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