My rating: 5 of 5 stars
When I finished reading this book, one of the first things I told my sister was, “You know those books that just, like, wow, you know? This is one of those books.” Basically, I was speechless. I loved this book. I love this book. I will always love this book.
At first, I couldn’t figure out what it was about from reading the synopsis and the quotes and reviews from authors that had already read it. I read the first like thirty pages I think online a few months back and that’s what drew me in. A rich family, a group of pretentious kids, a terrible secret. Holy shit, this was exciting. Not to mention that the protagonist’s main love interest is set up as quickly as possible and the story is told after everything has already happened with her being utterly distraught and broken by it. It was intriguing, to say the least.
My thoughts on the characters:
Every single one of them except for Gat (and even he sort of is a little) is pretentious, rich, privileged, and somehow messed up. The protagonist, Cadence Sinclair, is the most effed up mentally. I think the writing style really portrayed how she thinks and why the story unfolds in the way that it does. She acknowledges that she is pretentious and all that upper class mess of bad characteristics, but she doesn’t see the point in changing herself when that’s what people want to see from them. She knows the outside world sees the Sinclair family as some sort of enigma and she just plays along with it. I think this may be one of her major character flaws and a key display of Lockhart’s talent: her characters know who they are and they stand by what they believe in.
Gat won my heart although he does make incredibly human mistakes that sort of made me hate him. I guess I was as torn about him as Cadence was in the book. I like how thought-provoking he is and how bothered he is by his part in the whole “rich family does nothing for charity” idea that is attached to the Sinclair family.
Mirren is such a good person, but she wasn’t at the same time. She is a light and beacon of hope and happiness for them, a realistic breath of fresh air for their heavy thoughts. Although she is most definitely a liar and is so elusive sometimes that I just wanted Cadence to walk away from her because of how annoyed I became. But she’s also endearing and kind and there’s a special place in my heart for her.
Johnny made me swoon with how boyish he is. He doesn’t care for many things and is the epitome of the Sinclair family’s “rich-white-successful” stance. He’s funny. He’s smart. He’s athletic. He knows how messed up it is that they’re rich and they don’t do anything, but he accepts it and doesn’t bother to do anything about it. He gets bored of Gat whenever he brings it up but he sticks to his ideas and is a wonderful person because of it.
The three sisters (mothers of Cadence, Mirren, Johnny, and the littles as Cadence refers to the smaller cousins): they are manipulative and horrible and I cannot believe half of the things that these women say and do in this book, although they are the driving force behind most of what happens and the main reason why their children are so messed up.
Harris Sinclair aka Grandpa to the Liars and the worst man in the world. He’s kind and intelligent and owns a fortune, but he’s the reason his daughters are so horrible. The more I learned about him the more I couldn’t stand him.
My thoughts on the plot:
The plot is not concrete. It starts off with allusions to summer Fifteen as Cadence calls it, but she also has to give background on summer Eight and the summers between summer eight and summer fifteen. There really isn’t a plot until she gets to summer seventeen, which is considered present time in the novel and when Cadence reflects on the past summers and the story unfolds. I can’t say more without spoiling the book. What I will say is that I cried when I realized why these kids are so broken, I gasped when I found out what has happened, and I felt a terrible void within me when it all made sense. The ending is amazing. The ending is spectacular. The ending is one of those endings that surprise you, then you realize that there is really no other way this story could have ended.
Overall, this is a fantastic piece of literature that explores a world that not many are familiar with and made it something we could all sympathize with, even if we cannot empathize with it. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a good story and who can put aside prejudices to read something outside of their realm of reality.