by Judy Blundell
Guys, I’m very much on an awesome-book streak… so yeah. That’s why all my reviews these days are gushing and positive, this one included. This book is probably on backlists, it's not one of the shiny new releases :p
Summary (inside flap):
When Evie's father returned home from WWII, the family fell back into its normal life pretty quickly. But Joe Spooner brought back with him more than war stories. When movie-star handsom 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, gnoring 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 to be a truth 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 be betrayed. The question is... who?
My Expectations: I’ve read a lot of positive stuff on it, but since it’s not really a recent release there was never that much buzz. It did win the National Book Award.. should have been good.
Delivery: very awesome! It’s nice to retreat back into YA Historical Fiction once in a while. Too much contemporary…
From it's title to the last sentence, What I Saw and How I Lied swept me off my feet and effortlessly took me back into the 1940’s with a tale rich in characters, mystery and atmosphere. This novel’s style is classic and graceful; people speak and act exactly how I would picture them to in my head, from Evie’s mother’s posture to the characters’ dialogue. The heat of south Florida, the beaches, boys, parents, the search for second chances and a new beginning.. all that is beautifully weaved into the top-notch plot.
I have come to expect a lot of extreme-ness in plots after reading so many contemporary novels. I love reading about dramatic and emotional things like death and fighting so the subdued style of this novel threw me off at first. However, it is clear that the subtlety of the beginning is just a stepping stone to the shocking twist and the surprising ending. The way pieces built up to the climax demonstrated Blundell’s talent in plotting and pacing.
The thing I adored most about the novel was its sense of style. The prose and dialogue were very impressive, and the way the author incorporated things like fashion, speech, and cigarettes made the setting that much more believable. Evie’s teen-ness could get on my nerves (the whole ‘oh-my-gosh that boy is sooo THE ONE’) but she’s definitely a relatable and sympathetic character. Evie’s actions are quite true to self, especially when males are concerned; She could be snobby and stuck-up, or just an insecure girl. I guess I can forgive the fluttery heart of first love…
Lastly, the plot was utterly fantastic. Initially light-hearted sunny fun, things take a turn and the 'web of lies' forms an addicting thriller that makes readers to need to know what happpens next. Blundell managed to touch on so many teenage topics without overdoing or overwriting, Family, love, loyalties, and even racism is explored in this thought-provoking and entertaining novel.
Rating in HP Terms: Exceeds Expectations
Recommended for: YA historical fiction fans (reluctant his.fic. readers too!), people sick of paranormal and contemporary.. hehe
Acknowledgements: impressive… “buckets of gush”, “David Levithan”, “cowgirl hat”, the last sentence.. very thorough. 3.5/5
8.9/10 – because I adored the whole thing. Characters were fleshed out, the writing was succinct and graceful, and the plot (especially during the second half) was amazing. I loved the setting as well, it’s one of the finer historical fiction novels I’ve read in a long time.