Young Adult Literature

Prep Schools, Puzzles, and Posh Parents: 10 Books Like We Were Liars

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Family is complicated. Cadence knows this better than anyone. The main character and narrator of E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars is from a wealthy family. Raised alongside her cousins every summer, she is caught in the give and pull of familial drama. While her mother, aunts, and uncles gripe about inheritances, Cady is running wild with her cousins and the boy she loves on their family’s private island. But after a challenging school year, Cady returns to the island. And something is not right.

If you’re anything like me, then E. Lockhart’s 2014 thriller drew you in and led to a few agonizing nights wondering how you had not seen the ending sooner. Perhaps you blew through the book and are now craving more. Are you eager to read more YA with unreliable narrators? Craving an unpredictable twist right at the end of your next read? Or perhaps you cannot get enough of complicated family dynamics.

Whatever you’re searching for, I have a few ideas of what to read next if you’re interested in more books like We Were Liars. Read on for ten thrilling YA books to check out next!

Please note: most of these books like We Were Liars deal with suicide, death, assault, abduction, PTSD, and/or other serious content.

genuine fraud by e lockhard cover image

Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart

It feels only right to start off a list of books like We Were Liars with another title by E. Lockhart. Imogen and Jule have nothing in common and yet everything in common. In a story told in reverse chronological order, follow Imogen as she flees a life of wealth. Jule is running too, but she’s running from something else entirely. As friendships, romances, and mysteries intertwine, it’s hard to tell where one girl begins and where the next ends. Genuine Fraud is a great next read if you’re up for the challenge of a unique timeline.

The Cousins cover

The Cousins by Karen M. McManus

The setting is familiar: three cousins head to an island owned by their grandparent. Their family history has always been shrouded in mystery — why did their grandmother disown all of her children years ago? How have none of her grandchildren ever met her? Aubrey, Milly, and Jonah expect to spend the summer working at a swanky resort on the island owned by their grandmother, but they’re in for something much darker and more troubling.

Cover of How we Fall Apart by Katie Zhao

How We Fall Apart by Katie Zhao

Kids with too much money to know what to do with? Check. Pressure from parents to excel? Check. A delicious and dramatic amount of dishonesty? Check. Nancy attends one of the most prestigious schools in the nation. Her family has sacrificed all in order to send her to Sinclair Prep. And yet Nancy is about to sacrifice a whole lot more. When Jamie — a once powerful and popular student — falls from grace and is found dead, everyone is shocked. Suddenly Nancy and the rest of Jamie’s friends find themselves at the center of the investigation thanks to an anonymous source called “The Proctor,” even though they all claim they had nothing to do with Jamie’s death.

Book cover by Sadie by Courtney Summers

Sadie by Courtney Summers

Left by their parents to fend for themselves, Sadie’s number one priority has always been to take good care of her younger sister Mattie. Then one day Mattie goes missing, and soon after, her body is found. Sadie is crushed. And the police are useless. With nothing else tying her to her hometown, Sadie sets off to solve the murder. Follow along as a podcaster named West McCray follows Sadie’s trail and unearths the heartbreaking truth about missing and forgotten girls.

cover of Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson

Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson

Enchanted is a talented singer ready to take the world by storm. But it turns out Korey Fields, the famous man who promises to make all of her wildest dreams come true, has a well hidden mean streak. Just when Enchanted feels the most isolated, terrified, and without hope, something else happens: Korey is found dead. And Enchanted is at the scene of the crime with no recollection of what happened. How did it all go wrong? And will Enchanted find the strength to push back against a system determined to silence her?

Book cover of Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Madeleine has lived with two things her entire life: her loving mother, and a terrifying and complicated immunodeficiency disease. In an effort to stay well, Maddy hasn’t left her house since she was a baby. So when a boy moves in next door, Maddy is ready to make some changes. As she falls in love and begins to take chances for the first time in her life, she starts to notice that not everything around her makes sense.

The rest of the story book cover.

The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen

Emma and her father have been on their own ever since Emma’s mom passed away when she was young. Her memories of her mother are hazy, but it is not until she spends the summer with her maternal relatives that she realizes two things: there are many thing she doesn’t remember. And there are many things she was never told. For one, her father seems to belong on the wealthy side of the lake, while her mother grew up amongst the working folks across the water. Will Emma have to choose one side of her family over the other? And will she find all the missing puzzle pieces to her past?

Book cover of Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

Nicole is miserable: she’s spending her summer working at a rundown theme park, her best friend is avoiding her, and her younger sister Dara is nowhere to be found. Before a life changing car accident, the two sisters were thick as thieves. But now they don’t see eye to eye. When a local girl mysteriously disappears, Nick throws herself into finding the truth and repairing her relationship with her sister. (I remember first reading Vanishing Girls years ago and immediately feeling that it had some major We Were Liars vibes!)

Jane Anonymous book cover

Jane Anonymous by Laurie Faria Stolarz

Jane was living what she deemed a pretty regular life as a teen. But one day, something out of the ordinary happens: Jane is kidnapped at work by a seemingly random man. A year later, she has escaped from her imprisonment. But even back home with her family, she still feels trapped. While Cady from We Were Liars reacts to trauma in a very different way than Jane, this thriller sheds an interesting light on the different ways both PTSD and healing manifest.

Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson cover image

Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson

A little dabbling in magic is all fun and games for high school best friends Mila and Riley. Until Riley is suspiciously found dead and Mila temporarily brings Riley back to life. A horrifying string of murders follows in the town of Cross Creek, and it’s up to the two girls — and an unlikely crew of other undead murdered teenagers — to find the killer and put an end to the senseless deaths. Much like We Were Liars, Lily Anderson’s paranormal novel is dark, clever, and captivating.

Can’t get enough of books like We Were Liars? Interested in diving into more young adult fiction? Check out 15 YA Fantasy Books That Feature Amazing Love Triangles. If you are looking for books like We Were Liars or any other titles to read that directly cater to your interests, check out Tailored Book Recommendations! Through TBR, self-proclaimed “professional book nerds” dedicate themselves to personalizing and curating reading lists for their subscribers to satisfy whatever their unique interest are.

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