The Sinclair sisters--17-year-old Carrie, 16-year-old Penny and 14-year-old Bess--spend every summer at their family's private island off the coast of Massachusetts. The summer of 1987 is the first one without their 10-year-old sister, Rosemary, who drowned the year before. While the rest of the family has seemingly moved on from Rosemary's death, Carrie numbs herself with pills left over from a jaw surgery her parents forced her to have to look less "weak" and "foolish." Unsurprisingly, her summer proves to be anything but typical. First, Rosemary's ghost haunts Carrie; then, their cousin Yardley arrives with her boyfriend and his two friends. Carrie is immediately pulled into Pfeff's orbit when he spontaneously kisses her, telling her "I had to kiss you. Because look at where we are.... It would be a shame to waste it." As the fateful summer continues, lies are told, secrets spilled and a tragedy tests the teens' bonds.
Family of Liars is an unforgettable, sorrowful story of grief, guilt and regret. The Sinclair motto is "be a credit to the family" but perfection has a price, and Lockhart skillfully uses Carrie's addiction to show the cost--the drugs console her grief and block out the "full force" of her parents' expectations. Lockhart further contrasts death, lies and grief with movie nights and sunny afternoons on sailboats, giving depth to this unsettling yet striking story. --Lana Barnes, freelance reviewer and proofreader