Cady loves to spend summers with her family on their private island with her two cousins and their "adopted" friend Gat. The summer they all turned fifteen was particularly memorable as that was the summer she fell in love with Gat. At the same time, however, it was also the summer of a traumatic accident that stole a number of her memories from that year. After a year of dealing with her amnesia, Cady and her family are back on the island. She's looking forward to reuniting with her best friend because together they make up the "Liars." But things are obviously different as the family home has been torn down and rebuilt, her Liars insist upon not having anything to do with the family that isn't quite the same as it had been, and nobody tells her what happened on the night she lost her accident. As she slowly remembers what happened the year she was fifteen, she recalls a family that constantly bickered, a family darkened with greed and prejudice, a family that tore each other apart. If only Cady could remember what happened to change everything.
It took me a while to get into this novel. It is a little disjointed in the writing. Come the start of the summer seventeen, it switches between the current summer and the one when they were fifteen and sometimes the transitions are not that clear. She throws in these fairy tales that she's rewritten. They don't necessarily add to the story, but through them you can see a reflection of her own story, which is interesting, especially later on when she starts to figure things out. The last one hundred or so pages are the most gripping. It's at that point that the clues to the past become clearer and the reader along with Cady start to figure out what's going on - then and now. I know for me I got an inkling of the truth and desperately wanted to finish just to see if I was right. The payoff is worth it. Come the last half of the novel, the characters become clearer - especially the grandfather and aunts as they fight for power and how the children don't want any part of it. It comes to a point that you can almost sympathize with Cady and her grand scheme - however twisted it may be. The novel builds nicely to the big reveal, once you get past the first hundred pages, although I disagree with the book flap that says it is full of suspense. While there is the mystery of what happened to Cady, it's not edge-of-your-seat like I imagine suspense to be.
Although it took me time to get invested in this novel, I was glad that I stuck with it to the end.