Every year, summer begins when the Callahans arrive on Mariposa Island. That’s when Elena Finney gets to escape her unstable, controlling mother by babysitting for their two children. And the summer of 1986 promises to be extra special when she meets J.C., the new boy in town, whose kisses make Elena feel like she’s been transported to a new world.

Joaquin Finney can’t imagine why anyone would want to come to Mariposa Island. He just graduated from high school and dreams about going to California to find his father and escape his mother’s manipulation.

The Liars of Mariposa Island follows siblings Elena and Joaquin, with flashbacks to their mother's experience as a teenage refugee fleeing the Cuban revolution.

This multilayered novel explores the nature of secrets, lies, and fierce, destructive love.


Mathieu masterfully invests readers in the the characters’ origin stories, emotions, and motives. Her descriptions of the various settings over time and space are vivid and pulsating, immersing the audience in the psyches and nostalgia of each narrator.
— Booklist, starred review

Mathieu empathetically delves into thorny questions of identity, trauma, abuse, choices, family bonds, and the lengths people will go to keep a measure of control in their lives. With a touch of romance, this gentle, multilayered novel comes with a dash of the unexpected thanks to the deeply unreliable nature of its narrators.
— Kirkus

Across two countries and three generations, Jennifer Mathieu masterfully explores how families break, how siblings survive, and all of the ways that love can hold us back and let us go.
— Robin Benway, National Book Award winner for FAR FROM THE TREE

In this tenderly told novel with a rich sense of place and time, Jennifer Mathieu unravels one immigrant family’s secrets. It’s clear that Mathieu loves all three main characters, flaws and all, and her masterful storytelling invites us to do the same.
— Mitali Perkins, National Book Award finalist for YOU BRING THE DISTANT NEAR

This is a masterfully wrought, lyrical, and layered exploration of the fraught bonds of family and what follows in the wake of exodus—from one land to another, from childhood to adulthood, and from lies to truth.
— Jeff Zentner, Morris Award winner for THE SERPENT KING