Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Teen/YA Review: What I Saw and How I Lied

I read What I Saw and How I Lied, a recent paperback release by Judy Blundell, while stuck for hours on a delayed flight.  It provided a welcome and worthy distraction!  This wonderful teen/YA novel won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature in 2008.  It’s an intriguing mix of historical fiction, a touching coming-of-age story, mystery, and even a bit of romance.

In 1947 New York, Evie is fifteen and feeling in that peculiar limbo between childhood and adulthood.  Here, she and her friend Margie practice smoking with chocolate cigarettes:

Margie held her candy cigarette high in the air, even though ladies don’t smoke on the street.  We couldn’t imagine being wicked enough to smoke on the street, but it was something to shoot for, something that smacked of high heels and saying “damn” if you broke a nail.  In the meantime, we were careful not to step on any cracks in the sidewalk.  Step on a crack, break your mother’s back.  We’d been saying it since we were nine years old, and it was just like Holy Communion.  We believed in it absolutely, no matter how screwball it sounded.

The author does a great job of capturing the sense of innocence and excitement of both the age and the time period.  The war has ended, and husbands, fathers, and brothers are returning home.  Evie’s stepfather has come home to her and her mother, but he seems different in some hard-to-describe way.   Peter, a young, handsome man from his company, shows up, and Evie begins to fall in love.  When tragedy strikes, Evie’s world begins to unravel and she no longer knows what – or who – to believe…and neither does the reader.

This suspenseful mystery kept me turning the pages, as I came to care about Evie and lament the loss of her little-girl innocence.  It’s a wonderful novel for both teens and grown-ups.

281 pages, Scholastic


Michelle Fiore said...

My favorite genre is historical fiction! I'm going to check this out! Thanks for the review.
Michelle Berg
Little Nipper Books

Andrea said...

I enjoy historical books from this era too so I might have to look into this one.