Book Review: “What I saw and how I lied” by Judy Blundell

Evie is fifteen, her stepfather has returned from the war, and life is good.

Okay, so they still live with her step-father’s mother, who doesn’t quite get along with Evie’s mother. So Evie’s step-father is drinking more. So Evie’s parents are fighting more often.

But Evie’s main concerns are that her mother won’t let her wear grown-up clothes and that she can’t seem to attract the attention of her crush.

Then her stepfather decides to take them on a vacation to Florida–and Evie meets (and falls in love with) the dashing young Peter (who had served with her stepfather in the War.)

Awash with the headiness of a new environment, new clothing (one of her mothers’ new friends insisted), and new love, Evie thinks of little but how she can next see Peter. Then a hurricane hits and Evie’s world comes crashing down.

I added What I saw and How I lied to my TBR list on the basis of Semicolon’s review (I think), but by the time I’d gotten around to picking it up from the library, I’d forgotten the review and had no idea what to expect. (Even if I’d read Semicolon’s review more recently, I’m not sure I’d have known what to expect. Sherry does a good job of not giving spoilers.)

At any rate, I read with only the book’s title to clue me in on what was happening–and that kept me guessing for a good long time.

I knew something was wrong, that something wasn’t adding up in Evie’s idyllic world–but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was. What’s more, if Evie (the narrator of the book) had seen something, why wasn’t she telling me? What had she seen? And how had she lied?

I was almost upset with her for not sharing–but I kept reading in the hopes that she would at last reveal.

And reveal she did, with a punch that left me gasping for air.

Other reviewers have called this a coming-of-age novel, and that it is. It’s about a loss of innocence, a loss of trust. It’s also a story about stealing, lying, adultery, and murder. As my grandmother would say, it’s a story of sex and violence.

But a well-told story.

This is definitely not a children’s book. But the sex and violence found in this book is not the gratuitous or experimental raciness of a typical YA novel. It’s tasteful (mostly) and integral, contributing to Evie’s awakening to the world of lies and truth, deception and integrity, lust and love.

I very much enjoyed reading this novel and recommend it for discerning, mature readers.

Rating: 4 stars
Category: YA-Coming of Age Novel
Synopsis:Evie grows up rather quickly after a winter in Florida where she encounters lust, lies, deception, and discrimination.
Recommendation: I think thoughtful readers are likely to enjoy this, while those looking for either escapist or sensational fiction will be disappointed. I personally enjoyed it a great deal.

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