Kennedyesque: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

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Welcome to the beautiful Sinclair family.

No one is a criminal.

No one is an addict.

No one is a failure.

The Sinclairs are athletic, tall and handsome. We are old-money Democrats. Our smiles are wide, our chins are square and our tennis serves are aggressive.

. . . We are Sinclairs.

No one is needy.

No one is wrong.

We live, at least in the summertime, on a private island off the coast of Massachusetts.

Perhaps that is all you need to know.

kennedys_gallery_04Perhaps it is not all we need to know. After that first page of We Were Liars (reprinted mostly above), I was definitely intrigued. Now, was I more intrigued in the story of the Sinclairs or in my hope that this would be about the Kennedys?

But it isn’t about the Kennedys.  It is about the three daughters of Tipper and Harris Sinclair. It is about Beechmont Island. It is about the children of the three daughters of Harris Sinclair and it is specifically about three of Harris’ grandchildren, plus one friend, who become their own small community: Cadence, Johnny, Mirren and Gat. “The family calls us four The Liars, and we probably deserve it. We are all nearly the same age, and we all have birthdays in the fall. Most years on the island, we’ve been trouble.

This is one of the “young adult” novels that somehow cross over to reach into adult land, maybe because it won the Goodreads

Totally gratuitous and off-topic photo of John F. Kennedy Jr. on the beach just because he was the best

Totally gratuitous and off-topic photo of John F. Kennedy Jr. on the beach just because he was the best

 Young Adult Choice award for 2014 and was on a host of bestseller lists. My book club just finished reading it for our meeting tonight. It’s a zippy read and once Cadence loses her memory due to an unexplained on-island incident during her 15th summer, the pages turn faster. What caused the memory loss? Why have Mirren, Johnny and Gat, her first love, abandoned her? Why have Harris’ three daughters, who rivaled Lear’s in terms of grasping and bitchiness, become tender and gentle toward one another? Why has Harris torn down the grand family manse of Clairmont and installed a monastic modern temple?

Apparently, E. Lockhart was inspired by Gone Girl to write We Were Liars. That implies a surprise ending. An ending which I will not give away. I will say, it wasn’t all that shocking. The book’s cover asks readers if they are asked about the ending to “just lie.” So perhaps I should say it was all that shocking?

It was fine. It was an easy book to read. But truthfully, no lying, if I were to recommend a summer read that reminds me of the Kennedys, I’d recommend Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead. Or Dominic Dunne’s A Season in Purgatory. Or Joyce Carol Oates’ Black Water. Even Stephen King’s 11/22/63. All really good reads inspired by the Kennedys.

MENU

New England Clam Chowder:  https://daeandwrite.wordpress.com/2014/04/20/the-past-and-future-of-nao-a-tale-for-the-time-being-by-ruth-ozeki/

S’mores Dip: instead of making regular s’mores, put chocolate in a ceramic dish and cover it with marshmallows. Bake until the marshmallows puff and brown and then serve with graham crackers to dip.

Our lovely hostess at book club served the following, summery menu:

Deviled Shrimp

Guacamole with blue corn chips

Green bean and potato salad

Crab cakes with tomato jam

Slow roasted tomato with mozzarella and basil

MUSIC

This novel seems like it would be set in the 40s or 50s, but it’s modern day. Nevertheless . . . I would play some classic, old school music: Cole Porter’s soundtrack for High Society, the Grace Kelly, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra musical adaptation of The Philadelphia Story set in Newport, R.I.

MOVIE CASTING

It looks like We Were Liars has been sold to be made into a movie.

Harris Sinclair:  Tom Wilkinson

Tipper Sinclair:  Blythe Danner

Penny: Kate Hudson

Bess: Reese Witherspoon

Carrie:  MIchelle Pfeiffer

Cadence:  Chloe Grace Moretz

Mirren:  Dakota Fanning

Johnny:  Chord Overstreet

Gat:  Suraj Sharma

Happy Reading!

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A Dog’s Purpose (Is Apparently to Make Me Cry)

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My dogs, Eliza & Cleopatra

Bruce Cameron swears he wrote this novel because at the end, the dog doesn’t die.  BAH.  The dog dies three times!  And that’s not a spoiler.  It’s the premise of  A Dog’s Purpose, A Novel for Humans that Toby-Bailey-Ellie-Bear-Buddy is one dog who reincarnates to find his/her “real purpose” for being born over and over again.

A Dog’s Purpose is written in first-dog point of view, sharing important dogisms, theories and understandings.

“Dogs have important jobs, like barking when the doorbell rings, but cats have no function in a house whatsoever.” Bailey’s dim view of cats extends to horses and ducks.  But he likes other dogs.

    In the Yard I quickly adjusted to life in the pack, I learned to love Señora and Carlos and Bobby and just when my play with Coco was starting to assume a different, more complex character, we were taken to visit the nice lady in the cool room and the urgency I’d been feeling went completely away.

Bailey, the dog’s second incarnation, finds his true purpose when the little golden retriever escapes a bad situation and is rescued by Ethan’s mom.  When Bailey meets ten year old Ethan, doggy angels sing.  “I guess I had never bothered to consider that there might be such a thing as a boy, but now that I had found one, I thought it was just about the most wonderful concept in the world.”

Now, this book spent 52 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list and brucecameron.com claims it has the highest reader-ranking of any “recent book on the New York Times best-seller list.”  Everyone from Temple Grandin to Alice Walker has endorsed it.  And it’s a great book.  But to claim that A Dog’s Purpose is not a sad book, is completely disingenuous.

IMG_1554My dog Abra

In the end, though, A Dog’s Purpose is like my relationships with dogs.  I love them beyond words.  And when they must go, I grieve them.  But the love exceeds the grief beyond measure.

MENU

 Deconstructed Bangers and Mash  This is one of my favorite Boxing Day recipes but it works for A Dog’s Purpose.  I buy the little smokies beef sausages and cook them in the oven at 350 until browned.  Then I find the smallest newimg_3774 potatoes I can and scrub them, roast them whole with sea salt, pepper and olive oil.  When both are cooked, stack a potato and a sausage on a toothpick.

You could serve hot dogs, but I don’t eat those so I wouldn’t serve them.

Keebler makes a dogbone shaped cracker for people called Scooby Doo! Baked Graham Cracker Snacks.  I would serve these with fruit (grapes and berries) and a yogurt and honey dipping sauce.  I make the sauce using a container of Greek yogurt, honey to taste and cinnamon.  It’s simple and tastes great and is healthy than sour cream and much better with fruit.

Puppy Chow:  My family’s favorite Christmas snack.  My mother makes several pounds of it in November.

  • 9 cups Rice Chex™, Corn Chex™ or Chocolate Chex™ cereal (or combination)
  • 1cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2cup peanut butter
  • 1/4cup butter or margarine
  • 1teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2cups powdered sugar
  • Place cereal Into large bowl, set aside.
  • In 1-quart microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter uncovered on High 1 minute; stir. Microwave about 30 seconds longer or until mixture can be stirred smooth. Stir in vanilla. Pour mixture over cereal, stirring until evenly coated. Pour into 2-gallon resealable food-storage plastic bag.
  • Add powdered sugar. Seal bag; shake until well coated. Spread on waxed paper to cool. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

MUSIC

Man of the Hour, Norah Jones (MY FAVORITE!)

Hound Dog, Elvis Presley

Walking the Dog, Rufus Thomas

My Dog and Me, John Hyatt

Black Dog, Led Zeppelin

Won’t You Come Home, Bill Bailey?, Harry Connick, Jr. (and many others)

My Buddy, Frank Sinatra’s version is nice

Beer for My Horses, Toby Keith

Your Song, Ellie Goulding

MOVIE CAST

Really, the dogs are the most important characters, except for Ethan.  Dreamworks has a movie in development.

Ethan:  Zach Efron or Chord Overstreet (From Glee)

Hannah:  Carrie Underwood or Hayden Panettiere

Happy Reading!

Link to the Book Trailer video:  https://www.youtube.com/embed/px_8id3qPeQ“>