Thursday, May 20, 2010

What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell

When Evie's father returned from World War II, the family fell back into its normal life pretty quickly. But Joe Spooner brought more back with him than just war stories. Movie-star handsome Peter Coleridge, a young ex-GI who served in Joe's company, shows up, and Evie finds herself falling for him, ignoring the secrets that surround him... until a tragedy occurs that shatters her family and breaks her life in two. As she begins to realize that almost everything she believed was really a lie, Evie must get to the heart of the deceptions and choose between loyalty to her parents and feelings for the man she loves. Someone will have to betrayed. The question is... who? - from book cover
Set in the sticky summer weather in a Florida hotel in 1947, What I Saw and How I Lied is a stunning tale of deception and what happens when a string of vicious secrets is finally surfaced... or downed. 
Evie is a teenager in the 1940s, right after the second World War. Her handsome step-father, Joe Spooner, and her mother, the exquisite Beverly Spooner, set out on a summer vacation in Florida with Evie. Upon arriving in Palm Beach, the Spooner family is unable to find a nice hotel and are forced to rent a room in West Palm in a much older part of town. Nearly board to death by her parents (even though they meet a curious couple), Evie soon discovers that one of Joe’s old comrades from the war is also staying in the same hotel. Caught up in his mysterious and suave attitude, Evie falls in love... or so she thinks. As one cause of events leads to another, dangerous and heartbreaking secrets are uncovered that will make Evie choose between telling the truth, or believing a lie. Evie is just a naive, boy-crazy girl who–at the beginning of this book–desperately wishes she was just like her mother, but knows nothing about Beverly’s so-called “dazzling” life. At the end we discover a girl who has experienced an adult world she never would have imagined.
Based on other [mixed] reviews I’ve read about What I Saw and How I Lied, I’m not quite sure everyone agrees that this book was “good” enough to win a National Book Award title. I don’t really believe it was extremely worthy of that title either, but I will say this: it wasn’t the content that counted; it was the meaning behind the story that won that award. The meaning behind the story is lies. What I Saw and How I Lied brings us a message of the effect of lies and how the truth can come out in some very strange, and frightening ways. Both Evie and the reader will learn that being truthful from the very start is much, much better than creating and living in a network of deception.
I can’t say much more without revealing the very engaging plot of this book, but I will leave you with this: What I Saw and How I Lied is the perfect book for every library, book club, or bookshelf. True, you may only read this book once, but I think it’s worth having around just for the sake of how beautifully and cunningly written What I Saw and How I Lied is. The colorful and delightful slang of the 1940’s is also to die for.
My Recommendation: Again, a great suggestion for libraries, book clubs, and your own personal shelf. Although it’s not such a oh-so-fab, happy story, I think it will be very appealing to both teens and adults for the intriguing plot and message. I recommend for ages 14+.

This Book is For: Teens and adults starting at age 14. History lovers will enjoy this as well–lots of great details about the ‘40s!
This Book is Not For: Young teens or children. (See content)

Content: This book deals with sensuality, both in reference to other characters as well as Evie. Evie makes-out with Peter Coleridge as well as another boy who ends up going a bit too far. (PG-13) There is also a bit of language; not too harsh, but not mild either.

The Last Straw: A taste of slang in 1947: “Jeepers!”, “How do?”, “He cheesed me”.
Pages: 281|Year Published: 2008|Publisher: Scholastics|
|Genre: Historical fiction, teen romance, World War II|
|Content: PG-13|Age Group: YA, ages 14+|
|Enjoyed It: 4/5|Content Rating: 3/5|Cover: 4/5|
|Overall: 4/5|


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