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Family of Liars: The Prequel to We Were Liars

Family of Liars: The Prequel to We Were Liars

by E. Lockhart

Narrated by Kimberly Farr

Unabridged — 8 hours, 50 minutes

E. Lockhart

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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER ¿ The thrilling prequel to the TikTok phenomenon and New York Times bestseller We Were Liars takes readers back to the story of another summer, another generation, and the secrets that will haunt them for decades to come.
A windswept private island off the coast of Massachusetts. 
A hungry ocean, churning with secrets and sorrow.
A fiery, addicted heiress. An irresistible, unpredictable boy. 
A summer of unforgivable betrayal and terrible mistakes.
Welcome back to the Sinclair family. 
They were always liars.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

★ 03/21/2022

Lockhart returns for another look behind the privileged Sinclair family’s gleaming facade in this absorbing prequel to 2014’s We Were Liars. Centered on the original Liars’ mothers as teens in 1987, the story is narrated by Carrie, the eldest of the three surviving Sinclair sisters, in response to a request for details about “the absolute worst thing you ever did, back then.” The bulk of the action unfurls on and around Beechwood, the wealthy family’s private island off the Massachusetts coast. Though the rest of her family seems to have moved on, 17-year-old Carrie still grieves for her youngest sister, Rosemary, who drowned the previous summer at age 10. Numbing herself with prescription codeine and filched sleeping tablets, Carrie finds comfort in visits from Rosemary’s palpable, talkative ghost. When the siblings’ uncle and cousin show up with surprise guests—three charismatic teen boys—Carrie is swept into a romance with one of them, dishy but careless Lawrence “Pfeff” Pfefferman. In the weeks that follow, she learns several ugly family secrets as events stress-test the sisters’ bonds. Lush language and a setting full of breezy glamor provide an easy entry point into this layered, atmospherically tense exploration of jealousy, love, and family loyalty. Characters read as white. Ages 12–up. Agent: Elizabeth Kaplan, Elizabeth Kaplan Literary. (May)

From the Publisher

Praise for Family of Liars:

"A perfect beach read." —The Boston Globe

"Poetic and thoughtful....  I anticipated that at some point a shocking twist would come. And, wow, does it ever." —The New York Times

"Besides superb character development, there is a dark, supernatural angle that makes this an interesting novel with unexpected twists…. An atmospheric story that will welcome new and seasoned readers to the Sinclair family." —NPR

"Full of plot twists, betrayal, and ugly family secrets, fans of the first novel will no doubt love it." —Paste Magazine

★ "Beautiful and devastating." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

★ "[A] layered, atmospherically tense exploration of jealousy, love, and family loyalty." —Publishers Weekly, starred review

★ "While knowledge of the earlier title enriches the drama here, this is still absolutely engrossing, and readers will wonder what other tragic secrets the Sinclairs are hiding." —The Bulletin, starred review

★ "An unforgettable, sorrowful story of grief, guilt and regret…. Lockhart further contrasts death, lies and grief with movie nights and sunny afternoons on sailboats, giving depth to this unsettling yet striking story." —Shelf Awareness, starred review

"The novel is uncomfortably thought-provoking… and is impossible to put down." —The Horn Book

"An absorbing prequel…. As she did in the original, Lockhart uses fairy tales and a shocking twist to powerful effect." —The Buffalo News

Praise for We Were Liars:

"Irresistible premise for this ticking time bomb of a novel." —The New York Times Book Review

"[A] haunting, sophisticated mystery... so twisty and well-told that it will appeal to older readers as well as to adolescents." —The Wall Street Journal

"It's a nearly perfect story, and it's utterly absorbing." —Bustle

"No book on this summer's reading list will have readers immobilized in their hammocks more than E. Lockhart's We Were Liars." —Newsday

"Stunningly sharp. . . . will sear itself into your memory." —Christian Science Monitor

"A haunting psychological thriller." —The Guardian

"Delivers a satisfying, but shocking twist ending." —Entertainment Weekly

"It's twisty, it's mysterious, and it's got a surprise ending that'll knock your socks off." —MTV News

"A shocking punch in the face that will stay with you long after you finish." —Hypable

★ "Surprising, thrilling, and beautifully executed." —Booklist, starred review

★ "Riveting, brutal and beautifully told." —Kirkus, starred review

★ "The ending is a stunner that will haunt readers for a long time to come." —SLJ, starred review

★ “Astonishing." —Shelf Awareness, starred review

School Library Journal


Gr 9 Up—Lockhart's prequel to the wildly popular We Were Liars reunites readers with the wealthy Sinclair family and another summer of ominous drama and haunting memories. The action takes place on the Sinclairs's private island off Cape Cod, 27 years before the events of We Were Liars. The youngest child of Harris and Tipper Sinclair, Rosemary, drowned on the island the previous year and Carrie, her oldest sister, is taking the loss especially hard. In addition to feeling like she is the only one truly mourning Rosemary, she constantly feels like an outsider among her sisters: never the prettiest nor the smartest. Also recovering from reconstructive jaw surgery, she attempts to cope by self-medicating to disconcerting effects, including nighttime visits from Rosemary's ghost. The summer seems like it might improve when her cousin's boyfriend arrives with two handsome friends in tow. Suddenly Carrie is taking part in family events with gusto in order to spend more time with the handsome yet flighty Lawrence Pfefferman, aka Pfeff. As the summer wears on, tension builds among the islands' teen inhabitants, ending with an unpredictable, multi-layered twist conclusion. Lockhart employs many of the tactics used in We Were Liars to build suspense; subtle hints at the novel's climax are interspersed with unreliable narration and red herrings to inevitably keep readers guessing. This can be read as a standalone but, as an author's note warns at the beginning, it will spoil the events of We Were Liars if read first. VERDICT This high-interest, suspenseful prequel will capture fans of We Were Liars and new readers alike; a must purchase for YA collections.—Mary Kamela

Kirkus Reviews

★ 2022-02-09
This prequel to We Were Liars (2014) takes place in 1987 as 17-year-old Carrie Sinclair faces her first summer at the family’s Massachusetts vacation property without her youngest sister, Rosemary.

Ten-year-old Rosemary drowned the previous summer while swimming alone. Carrie’s parents and remaining sisters, 16-year-old Penny and 14-year-old Bess, endure the loss with characteristic Sinclair stoicism, but Carrie finds it difficult to repress her sorrow, even with the aid of codeine pills to numb her pain. When Rosemary’s ghost appears to her, she is bewildered by the specter but accepts her intermittent appearances and comfortably mundane requests. Even more unexpected are the arrivals on Beechwood Island of George, Major, and Pfeff, friends of Carrie’s cousin Yardley. The boys’ presence, a deviation from the Sinclair family’s usual routine, sets into motion an unforeseen chain of events that ultimately entangles the three oldest Sinclair sisters. Lockhart’s stark, evocative prose captures the emotions of a grieving teenage girl paralyzed by the weight of her parents’ expectations and plagued by a perpetual sense of inadequacy. The novel is framed as a story that present-day Carrie tells the ghost of her deceased son, Johnny, who asks Carrie to reveal “the absolute worst thing you ever did, back then.” Her response is a haunting confession about family allegiances; the arbitrary rules of powerful, moneyed White families; and the strength required to bear witness to terrible truths.

Beautiful and devastating. (family tree, map, author’s note) (Fiction. 13-18)

Product Details

BN ID: 2940176257809
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Publication date: 05/03/2022
Edition description: Unabridged
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

Customer Reviews