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What I Saw And How I Lied Hardcover – November 1, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 9 Up—In 1947, 15-year-old Evie, her mother, Bev, and her stepfather, Joe, leave Brooklyn for a vacation in Palm Beach, FL, during the off season. There they meet Arlene and Tom Grayson, who lavish attention on the family and convince Joe to go into the hotel business with them. When Peter, an army acquaintance of Joe's, appears, Evie is smitten by his charm and attention. Her budding interest in romance, while protectively discouraged by her parents, is actually encouraged by Arlene, who helps Evie develop a sense of style. Evie enjoys her outings with Peter and interprets her mother's insinuating presence as protective, when in reality Bev is having an affair with the younger man. Joe's jealous distrust of his wife, established while he was at war in Europe, does not obviate the intimacy between Bev and Peter. Evie's closeness to her mother will not permit her to acknowledge the affair even when it becomes impossible to deny. Meanwhile pervading anti-Semitism sours the hotel deal, and the Graysons are forced out of Palm Beach. When Joe insists on one last boat trip, Peter dies during a storm and Joe is accused of murder. It is during the ensuing hearing that Evie learns that adults, even those closest to her, are not always what they seem. Blundell navigates this multidimensional plotline with unique, well-developed characters and insightful dialogue. Yet it is Evie and her rapidly maturing perception of herself and those around her that carry the story. In many ways she becomes the adult in the group, motivated by truth and justice rather than greed or superficial appearances.—Sue Lloyd, Franklin High School Library, Livonia, MI
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From Booklist

In this sophisticated thriller, 15-year-old Evie grows up quickly when she discovers her adored parents are not the people she thought they were. While on vacation in Palm Beach in 1947, Evie’s parents, Joe and Bev, get involved in a shady business deal with the Graysons, another couple on holiday. Meanwhile, Evie begins a flirtation with Peter, a handsome ex-GI who served with Joe and just happens to be staying at their hotel. Evie soon learns that Peter’s presence is no coincidence and that he threatens to uncover a terrible secret that Joe has kept since the war. Then Bev, Joe, and Peter go boating, but only two of them return. Evie must sort through secrets, lies, and her own grief to find the truth. Using pitch-perfect dialogue and short sentences filled with meaning, Blundell has crafted a suspenseful, historical mystery that not only subtly explores issues of post–WWII racism, sexism, and socioeconomic class, but also realistically captures the headiness of first love and the crushing realization that adults are not all-powerful. Grades 8-12. --Jennifer Hubert

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 620L (What's this?)
  • Series: AWARDS: ALA Best Books for Young Adults 2009
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press (November 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0439903467
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439903462
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (156 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #976,682 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 37 people found the following review helpful By TeensReadToo on October 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover
World War II is over and life is slowly getting back to normal. For Evie Spooner, that means having her father, Joe, back from the war and her parents back together again. On a whim, Joe decides to uproot the family for an extended vacation to Florida.

While there, Evie and her family run into Peter Coleridge, a young ex-GI who served with Joe in the war. Peter is charming and movie-star handsome, and Evie soon finds herself falling head over heels. But Peter has brought with him secrets about Evie's family and Evie finds herself caught in a web of lies. No one is who they seem and Evie has to decide who she should trust and who to betray.

When I opened my copy of WHAT I SAW AND HOW I LIED and saw it described as a mystery/detective novel, I knew I was in for a treat. This is an engaging coming-of-age novel set against mystery and scandal. I loved the film noir style, which helped move the mystery along at a quick pace. I was immediately drawn into the story and the setting and felt like I was there with Evie as she was uncovering the truth.

If you get your hands on WHAT I SAW AND HOW I LIED, be prepared to be sucked into the 1940s and be up reading all night. This is a book that should not be missed!

Reviewed by: Sarah Bean the Green Bean Teen Queen
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By livrelovre on November 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover
When I first realized the book was set in the 1940's, I wasn't sure I'd like it, but within just a few chapters, I was totally caught up in the story. The characters are complicated and realistic - from the uncomfortably charming salesman stepfather to the beautiful overly affectionate mom to the disapproving grandma who grudgingly allows her son's new family to live in her house while he's at war.
The main character's innocence heightens the reader's reaction to the dark discoveries she makes about the world around her. When she witnesses anti-Semitism, Evie says, "And the manager's face. He had been waiting to deliver that news. He had been happy to do it. That was the ugliest part." I loved the way Evie weighs family loyalty against being true to herself when the adults in her life let her down. "I touched the place on my temple that her lips always found, ever since I was a baby. Did everything funnel down to that one delicate place, the place where love was?" Blundell's writing is really beautiful, and her descriptions of first love and the pain of betrayal are touching and very true to life.
Oh, and on top of a writing style that takes your breath away, it's a great murder mystery (including adultery, blackmail, and courtroom drama) with a really satisfying ending. It's been so long since I read a book I fell in love with, I'd almost forgotten what it feels like. This is one I'll pass along to all my reader friends!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Misha on October 3, 2010
Format: Paperback
I don't understand why this book is not more known. What I saw and How I lied is a very well-written book that lingered on my mind a long time after I had finished reading it.
After World War II is over, Evie Spooner is happy to have her stepfather Joe back home from the war. She just wants things to be normal again.
Evie is dying to grow up, be a woman, explore, experiment, but her mother still treats her like a child.
On a whim , Joe takes Evie and her mother to Florida on a holiday. There they meet Peter Cooleridge,who had served with Joe in the war. Peter is handsome, charming and Evie finds herself falling for him.
But he has his secrets and Joe's dislike for him becomes more and more apparent. Evie is soon caught in a tangle of lies, secrets and her world tumbles upside down after a tragic accident and she doesn't know whom to trust anymore.
Judy Blundell has created a great atmospheric novel. I love the feel of the 1940s and I love how the author has described it. I found myself engrossed in Evie's story, so much so that I read the book in a span of 3 hours!!
Though its a sad story and has a sad ending, its a very well-written realistic coming-of-age story.
Every character is beautifully etched out. I really loved Evie and truly felt for her.... I felt her pain, her inner emotional turmoil. Evie with her dreams, desires was so relatable.
Blundell's writing is beautiful, even haunting.Her descriptions are so vivid, especially the descriptions of Evie's love, her feeling of being betrayed..they have been so well done that they almost feel real.

Beautiful and Lingering.

Yes, to all lovers of good coming-of-age novels
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By J. Fernando on November 10, 2008
Format: Hardcover
LA Confidential meets coming-of-age in a simply amazing book. Beautifully written, suspensful, surprising. Evie's character makes an incredible journey from sheltered girl to a young woman in control of her destiny. I didn't see the way it ended coming and couldn't have imagined anything so satisfying when I got there. I was only sad that it did end. Tweenagers will love this....and so will any adult who happens upon it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Frederiek on April 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I came upon this book in the library of my town (I live in The Netherlands and the book was translated into Dutch). I was intrigued by a small sticker saying "Winner National Book Award" and the cover of a girl with red lipstick. I read the first page and I was immediately hooked by its writing style. I started reading Saturday evening and came to page 70. The following day I finished this lovely book. I would say: read it yourself, you won't be disappointed, well, at least that's what I hope....
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