Friday, January 7, 2011

BR: What I Saw and How I Lied

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…

Put-down-ability: 5/10

My Thoughts

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.

source: bought
author website


  1. So glad you really enjoyed it. I'm ready to be blown away--just need my copy to arrive in the mail. Should be next week! :D Can't wait.

    I love my contemporary and historical YA titles. :)

  2. I am one of those reluctant historical fiction readers. Sounds like this book could change my mind though. Great review :)

  3. I'm a big fan of eloquent, elegant proses so this sounds like pure win to me.

    I hadn't heard of this book, probably because I don't read much historical fiction, but this one seems like it is worth trying.

  4. Great review. I love that you conveyed that it's good but it's not something that you can't put down.

  5. Thorough review! Love this!
    "people sick of paranormal and contemporary.. hehe" lol! Maybe this could be a different read, which I may need soon :)

  6. Yay! I am so glad that you reviewed this book. It is one of my all time favorites. It really transports you back to the time and sets up such an awesome sense of place. I could just picture the clothes, the attitudes, the music, etc. I loved it. Great review :)

  7. I love historical fiction set in the early to mid-1900s! I'm so glad that you brought this book to my attention!

    Thanks for the review!

  8. Cass- YAY, I can't wait to read your thoughts on it, I hope you enjoy it!!

    Nic- hehe, well this is always an option :) thanks!

    Missie- Yeah, historical fic isn't relaly for anyone but if you want a switch up, this one is pretty good! It definitely has the style part down :)

    Juju- thanks for the comment :)

    Justine- haha, thank you! and maybe ;)

    Lit for Lunch- ooh, yay, soo glad you loved the book!! I totally agree, there was some fantastic imagery, thanks!

    Madeleine- No problemo :) I hope you get a chance to read this sometime :)

  9. i've been thinking about getting this one.

    it's got, like, the BEST TITLE EVER.

    love this review, btw. you've bumped it up my wishlist. love a fantastic plot, hey.



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