Started: October 14, 2015
Finished: Oct 17, 2015
Genre/*Category: YA Literature/Realistic Fiction/Mystery
Awards: GoodReads Choice 2014 Winner for Best YA Fiction Literature
Themes: Isolation vs Conformity, Relationships, Surviving
Rating: 5 Stars
Age/Interest Range: 8th grade and up
Cadence Sinclair is wealthy. Crazy wealthy. Her family owns an island. An ENTIRE island, with four huge homes and a full wait staff, located near Martha’s Vineyard. And her family spends the whole summer there…
That basic description is what kept me from reading this book over the last year. I did not want to read about privileged youth complaining about cell service and having self-centered conversations. I thought reading something like this would equate to watching an episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians.
Well, I was wrong.
No one who recommended this read told me there would be dramatic/violent/mysterious tones, woven with narrative fiction, and dashes of prose. No one told me there would be literary connections to Wuthering Heights and fantastic short stories/allegories full of fantasy, myth, metaphors.
I was just told, “There’s an awesome twist.” But that alone just doesn’t do this read justice! I conclude there is far more to this novel than just “the twist.”
…However, that twist is perfectly done. PERFECTLY.
The whole story is told from Cadence’s perspective. By page 5 you get your first taste of the aforementioned gruesome dramatics. Cadence explains how she felt when her dad put his last suitcase in his car (because he is leaving her and her mother): “…[he] started the engine. Then he pulled out a handgun and shot me in the chest. I was standing on the lawn and I fell. The bullet hole opened wide and my heart rolled out of my rib cage and down into a flower bed. Blood gushed rhythmically from my open wound, then from my eyes, my ears, my mouth. It tasted like salt and failure.” Graphic and dramatic, spoken like a real teen!
Every summer Cadence’s maternal family escapes to the island. This year, Cady and her mother are running away from the pain of being left. However, this isn’t a linear story line… Out of the gate Cady is referring back to their 8th summer (aka. Summer eight), when Gat joined the original 3 older cousins, and the four of them are known as the Liars.
Gat is an aunt’s boyfriend’s nephew, and he is brought to the island to just simply offer his mother some help with watching over him. Gat is Indian, and this alone makes him very different from The Sinclair Family. Grandpa, the founding father of their family’s fortune, is the least welcoming of Gat. So when he walks in on Gat and Cady kissing during summer fifteen, a subtle comment takes the story line down a most mysterious, unfamiliar, and nonlinear road.
And I think it’s THAT crazy, interesting, and unexpected non-linear road that confines reviewers/recommend-ers to just defining this book as “having a great twist.” To say anymore is too difficult!
All I CAN say is this: Suspense drives this unique story…and Lockhart’s great writing is the fuel.
Overall Literary Merit: Moderate to High
Classroom Possibilities: A must-have for high school library and classroom library shelves! Lockhart’s YA writing is engaging and DIFFERENT. This style could be studied and/or used as an example/model in any high school ELA classroom.