My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Second World War has just ended, and fifteen-year-old Evie’s stepfather is finally back home. Something has changed and he certainly doesn’t seem like his old self, but that could be because of the terrible things he’s experienced during the war. Soon it becomes apparent something strange is going on when Evie’s interfering grandmother keeps taking calls from someone asking for her stepfather, and when the three of them suddenly take off to Palm Beach in Florida for what seems like an adventure to get away from it all, a handsome stranger turns up.
Peter Coleridge is a gorgeous ex-GI and Evie soon finds herself falling for him. But it’s not long before more secrets emerge and poor Evie’s world gets much darker as three people hire a boat during a hurricane, and only two come back, leading Evie into a court of law and about to make the biggest decision of her life.
For what is essentially a young adult coming-of-age romance, the combination of the 1940’s themed setting, the usage of appropriate words for that period, and the realistic and quite moving suspenseful plot shrouded by tragedy, certainly surprised me! What happened to Evie, and her struggles to be seen as a young adult and not the child everyone has grown used to, is to me something that teen girls would surely relate to, but it’s only part of what makes this book stand out. Other themes include anti-Semitism during post-war America and the terrible treatment of the Jews. These were not conveyed as lectures, or as chunks where the author shows off her research knowledge, but were subtly woven into the story as things that shocked young Evie when she first understood what was going on in the true style of her character. A great way to educate teenage readers without boring them, and the perfect excuse to pack more into the plot.
Overall: I found Blundell’s style of writing descriptive and engaging. The fun and naivety of Evie’s voice at the beginning slowly disappears, and as the unfortunate events unfold she conveys the sense of panic and confusion that a young girl in her position would feel; a marvellous way to set the tone for the book’s intriguing ending.
Incidentally, Judy Blundell is not new to the publishing world. For younger readers she has written under the psuedonym Jude Watson, Star Wars Episode I Journal Queen Amidala, which if you are a Star Wars fan, like I am, you’ll love! Other books under her belt include the New York Times bestselling series, 39 Clues 6: In Too Deep (The 39 Clues), written for teenagers.
Finally, the book cover of “What I Saw and How I Lied” is amazing. It has dust jacket, which when removed reveals two colour covers. Even if I had disliked this book, I would have insisted on at least giving three stars and a pint of beer to the book designer.