Sunday, October 6, 2013

Book Review: What I Saw and How I Lied

What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell
When Evie's father returned home from World War II, the family fell back into its normal life pretty quickly. But Joe Spooner brought more back with him than just good war stories. When movie-star handsome Peter Coleridge, a young ex-GI who served in Joe's company in postwar Austria, shows up, Evie is suddenly caught in a complicated web of lies that she only slowly recognizes. She finds herself falling for Peter, ignoring the secrets that surround him . . . until a tragedy occurs that shatters her family and breaks her life in two.

This is not generally the sort of book I pick up from a shelf, let alone read and enjoy, which makes my appreciation of the story all the more befuddling.  While I like historical fiction, I don't usually seek out 20th century pieces.    Nevertheless, I was sucked into this book and remained hooked until the end, not something that happens all that regularly. 

Our heroine, Evie, captures the feeling of being 15 perfectly:  far closer to adulthood than childhood, and yet the last few steps into actual adulthood are giant ones.  She desperately wants to be taken for more of an adult than she actually is, but often makes stupid mistakes and rash judgments.  Blundells captures such yearning desperation perfectly.  Dinners at a table with an attractive man become fonts of drama.  Every clever statement becomes a victory and every dull silence becomes a crushing defeat.  Wearing lipstick means adulthood, even if the women around her wearing such lipstick have troubles and secrets enough of their own. 

In case it wasn't obvious in the first chapter, antisemitism runs rampants throughout the characters in the story.  Even Evie herself isn't above pettiness early in the story, though her moral compass guides her better when she sees adults acting in similar ways on a larger scale.  In in many ways, Evie is just as mature as those she aspires to be like, and it takes the events of the story for her to realize it. 

The language was simple though not simplistic and the books reads quickly.  I would recommend this book to almost any reader.

4 out of 5 stars.


  1. I have been eying this book for AGES! Clearly I need to read it sometime soonish

    1. I honestly wasn't expecting to like it as much as I did. It has a lot of emotion in it without being overwrought or schmoopy.

      Yes. Schmoopy.