After finishing We Were Liars for the first time, I was so astonished that the desire to go back and read it all again was too much to ignore. And so, the very next day, I went straight back to the beginning and read it again.
It was such a great experience because I could look at the story from a completely new, enlightened perspective and it made the book unbelievably more beautiful. If you want to go and see my original BOOK TALK you're free to go to http://forever-fictional.blogspot.com/2016/04/we-were-liars-e-lockhart-book-talk.html and read it.
Obviously, I'm going to jump straight into the spoilers so PLEASE don't continue if you haven't read it yet- it will ruin the whole thing and I don't want to do that to you.
SPOILERS AHEAD- SPOILERS AHEAD- SPOILERS AHEAD- SPOILERS AHEAD
Re-reading this, honestly, just made me feel so stupid! I don't know how I didn't guess what happened. E Lockhart drops hints the entire way through and looking back, it's so obvious!
There are two main theories going round about what happened and how. Number One- Gat, Johnny and Mirren were hallucintaions made up by Cadence's subconscious to shield herself from the pain of losing them. Number Two- That they were ghosts and the book had a supernatural element.
Personally, when first reading this, I was convinced on theory Number One- it seemd more tragic and I didn't like the idea of a supernatural element intruding on this book. However, having re-read it, I can see how this theory makes sense. Despite me still believeing that they were hallucinations, I found a lot of hints that could imply that they were actually there with her as ghosts.
I'll go through a few hints and clues that I probably should have realised and that you may have missed, yourself.
They didn't reply to her emails.
At fist, I didn't think anything of this. I thought that because of whatever that had happened, they were scared to reply to her. I originally thought that Gat had somehow hurt Cady and the others wanted to stay out of it. I never considered that they weren't repling because they were dead!
At the beginning of Summer Seventeen, Granddad picks three peony flowers and gives them to Cady. "For forgiveness." At the time, I didn't read too much into it but after knowing what happened... that's a powerful message...
Early on, Taft asks Cady if she is a drug addict. The conversation goes as follows...
"Are you sure you're not a drug addict?"
"Where did you even get that idea?"
"Bonnie. She says I should watch out for you."
"Don't listen to Bonnie," I say. "Listen to Mirren."
"That's what I'm talking about."
It's so obvious that Mirren is no longer there otherwise, why would he say that?!?! A pivotal clue that I compelety missed.
Taft also dropped another major clue that I'm infuriated I brushed past. He's again talking to Cady about being a drug addict.
"Drugs are not your friends and also people should be your friends."
The family must know that Cady is hallucinating. I mean, she goes out by herself everyday, hanging out with the 'Liars'. The family must know what she thinks she's up to. She talks about the 'Liars' as if they are still there with them. And Taft is brilliantly and subtly hinting to her that they are no longer there. When I first read this, I didn't understand it. I chalked it up to a child speaking nonsense but it's so clear now! Taft is telling Cady that she needs to move on, to make real friends. She can't keep being friends with ghosts of her past, hallucinations or memories. Taft is far more clever than anyone gives him credit for.
Another sign to show that they are not there anymore should have been that Mirren didn't get the package with the Barbie in it that Cady sent her.
And, yet again, I didn't notice that clue!
Something I find really tragic in this book is that it took the deaths of three kids to get the aunties closer to each other- that, in the end, their plan really did work.
A very subtle hint that they were dead was the fact that Gat, Johnny and Mirren didn't interact with the other members of the family. When reading through this, it's an easy hint to miss. I never even realised that they hadn't until I found out. I just feel so oblivious...
On page 178 Cadence says that she did not hear Mirren and Gat enter the room- she didn't even know they were there until they started talking.
Through the whole book, Cady keeps saying that they Liars are wearing clothes from Summer Fifteen- it's so clear to see now that they never looked any different because they didn't get to grow up!
One thing that really devastates me is the last thing that Gat ever says to Cadence- and this is Summer Fifteen Gat, before he died- was 'See you in a better world.' That line alone makes me want to cry. Because it's true, in a way.
I wanted to talk about the two main theories also because, when I first read the book, I didn't even consider the possibility of ghosts- I immediately assumed that they were hallucinations. But re-reading the book, I can see why this would be a theory. I still think they were hallucinations but I can see why the idea of ghosts could also work.
One clue is that Aunt Carrie walks around at night, trying to find Johnny. This may be her own trouble with letting go of Johnny but, if they really did come back as ghosts, he could easily be visiting her as well.
Another hint was when Mirren and Cadence go on the motorboat. Mirren starts to feel sick and says,
" I did too much. I need to get back to Cuddletown. Now." This made me start thinking; maybe, as ghosts, they couldn't travel far from where they'd died? Maybe they can't stay ghosts for too long and that's why they were starting to get sick? Even at the end of the book when the Liars are having their 'goodbyes', Johnny says, " Mirren's got it the worst, but Gat and I are feeling it, too...I'm f**king tired. I just want to lie down and be done."
This is a huge hint to them being ghosts and even Mirren goes on to say, "I'm sorry I didn't do all of this better, Cady. I got one chance to be here, and I don't know, I drew it out, told so many lies... I have to go now. I can't be here any longer." This indicates that they came back as ghosts but the story is completely depended on interpretation. To others, it could have just been a way for Cady's subconscious to apologise for lying to herself so much and tricking her.
There was also a point where Gat got mad at Cady when she said that sometimes she wanted to die. This further shows the possibility of ghosts as Gat doesn't want their deaths to affect her life.
The ghost theory, however probable, does not have the same impact for me. Despite me being able to see the possibility of this theory, I think hallucinations is the better explanation. It's much more tragic, I think, for the whole thing to have been in Cady's head. Her own subconscious misses these people so much that it's willing to create perfect versions of these people just to shield her from the pain of losing them.
Even though the ghost theory is still tragic, it means that Cady still got to see the Liars one last time and got to clear the air with them.
There are plenty more points that I have not picked up on today but I just couldn't resist writing down my major discoveries when re-reading the book.
I'm going to recommend watching a booktube video by Ariel Bissett on the book because she also explains the theories really well and I agree with everything she says. She's a great booktuber so I'd definitely recommend checking out the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngq4pFyHy7k
Thanks for reading! See you soon.