The other day I made my bi-weekly trip to Salvation Army to browse through their book selection. There aren’t a lot of times that I find something that I read right away, but this time there was.
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Published: Nov 2008
Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction
“You said it would be warm,” she said, fanning herself with her hat. “You didn’t say it would be hellfire and damnation.” p. 29 (Talking about Florida. This is exactly how I feel about The Sunshine State, too, so I had to include it!)
“And then I forgot everything except the dance. I was able to dance for the first time in my life, really dance, and understand why it worked, one body against another body.” p. 49
“He was underneath every word and every thought now. All I could think about was when I would see him again. It was the fist time I knew what that kind of hunger, terrible and magnificent, was like. It was so much more than the words I heard in movies.” p. 84
What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell is the story of Evie Spooner, almost 16 year old. It’s set in the aftermath of WWII. Evie’s stepdad hasn’t been the same since the war. He just wants to forget. When the past comes back to blackmail him, he picks up his family for an impromptu trip down to Palm Beach. Enter Peter Coleridge, handsome and young ex-GI, who exudes charm and confidence. Evie never thought she was pretty until she met Peter and he makes her feel wanted. Little does she know that there is so much more going on than she realizes. In a novel filled with blackmail, suspense, adultery, and possible murder, Evie just might become the woman she’s always wanted to be.
So, the reason this is 3.5 stars even though it was incredibly well- written and compelling was because, at some point, there was a disconnect for me. Even though this is a great novel and one I think more people should read, I am basing my rating on my immediate feelings and there’s just something about it that didn’t immediately grab me. Part of me had a hard time relating to Evie because of the way she was acting. It was vastly different than the way I acted when I was 15/16. Then again, I never had an older guy show interest in me when I was her age.
Judy Blundell understands what that rush of first love feels like. Evie wants to grow up too fast just like every other teenage girl. She wants to dress the part and wear lipstick and act like her mom. As a character, Evie is very relatable, at first. I feel that towards the end of the novel when she makes her decision to lie, I lost something. I understand her conflicting choices but she goes against what Peter told her about her backbone.
Blundell does a good job of transporting the reader to Palm Beach. Being no stranger to Florida, I could imagine the heat and the rush of cool air from a movie theatre. Blundell also was brilliant at revealing bit by bit new knowledge learned by Evie. When the actual events were happening, I only saw what Evie saw and not what was actually happening. That takes talent for a writer to reveal so brilliantly the misinformation she plants. I will definitely recommend this book but I don’t think I will read it again.