What I Saw and How I Lied

 
3.2 (2)
 
3.8 (9)
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What I Saw and How I Lied
Author(s)
Genre(s)
Age Range
12+
Release Date
November 01, 2008
ISBN
0439903467
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Murder and intrigue surround a girl in this mystery set in American in the aftermath of WWII

When Evie's father returned home from World War II, the family fell back into its normal life pretty quickly. But Joe Spooner brought more back with him than just good war stories. When movie-star handsome 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, ignoring the secrets that surround him . . . until a tragedy occurs that shatters her family and breaks her life in two.

Editor reviews

2 reviews

Nothing New but Entertaining Nonetheless
Overall rating 
 
3.0
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
2.0
Writing Style 
 
3.0
My expectations going into What I Saw and How I Lied were high. Most of my friends really liked the novel, and it won the National Book Award, so it ought to be mind-blowing, right? Well, not really, at least for me. Though WISAHIL did provide adequate entertainment, I didn't learn or feel anything as a result.

Set in the landscape of post-WWII America, WISAHIL centers around the coming of age of Evie Spooner. Evie has always lived in her mother's shadow; Bev Spooner gets compared by everyone to the most beautiful movie stars of the day. Evie feels plain and boring compared even to her friend Margie, who at least has already developed a figure, no longer needing to stuff her bra with tissues.

Joe, Evie's step-father, comes home one day with an idea: they should all go on vacation to Palm Beach. Ever since he returned home from the war, he's been working hard and they all deserve a break. Their trip involves numerous annoyances and they arrive in Palm Beach to find the place deserted, since the creme de la creme never go down there until December. Evie enjoys the novelty of the beach, but that quickly wanes and boredom sets in.

Of course, nothing dispels boredom like a handsome man. Peter Coleridge, a private from Joe's company with whom he seems to have a mysterious past, is everything Evie has ever wanted. Her imagination kicks into high gear and she starts wanting to grow up and fast, because Peter's 23 to her 15. Even before this point, I didn't much like Evie or Peter, but when it became clear that he was her love interest I decided definitively that I did not care for them. Honestly, almost every single character in this book is awful. Peter especially, because hitting on a fifteen year old girl who definitely acts and thinks like one when you're 23 is completely disgusting.

If you like your historical fiction full of drama, betrayal and mystery, then I suspect you might enjoy WISAHIL. I kept expecting some big twist, but the book went exactly where I predicted it would, though that might not be the case for every reader. Still, I flipped through the pages really quickly, because, original though it wasn't, I had to know for sure what went down.

Despite the accolades accrued by Blundell for this novel, the writing did not impress me. She uses the very simplistic style common in first person narratives. While that worked okay for Evie, I would have expected to see some more complex sentence structures spoken by other characters at least. Then again, if you have a better sense for Evie as a person, then perhaps the narrative will just fit her and you'll love it. All I know is that the writing did not hold any special appeal for me.

All in all, this was an entertaining read, but lacked the depth and historical impact for which I hoped. Since I own another Blundell book, I do intend to give her work another shot.
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Sophisticated Coming of Age Mystery in Noir Style
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
The match snapped, then sizzled, and I woke up fast. I heard my mother inhale as she took a long pull on a cigarette. Her lips stuck on the filter, so I knew she was still wearing lipstick. Shed been up all night.


So begins the story of Evie Spooner.

Evies stepfather, Joe, has returned home to his knockout wife after serving in World War II, and it appears that life is all polka dots and moonbeams. Then Joe takes a phone call that prompts him to scoop up his family from their Queens, New York, home to head south to Palm Beach, Florida, even though the town is desolate and hurricane season is approaching.

But what happens to Evie and her family in Florida is worse than the after effects of any hurricane. The reader won't be able to turn the pages fast enough while following the twists and turns in this noir mystery. The authenticity of the 1940s lingo and style will make girls long for pin curls and guys wish for the class of Humphrey Bogart.

Judy Blundell gifts us with living, breathing pictures of the loss of innocence, first love and the choice between truths and lies. This coming of age story will stick with the reader long after the mystery is solved.

If it is&

What I Saw and How I Lied is the 2008 recipient of the National Book Award for Young People's Literature.
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User reviews

9 reviews

 
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(1)
1 star
 
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Overall rating 
 
3.8
Plot 
 
3.8  (9)
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Good enough
Overall rating 
 
3.0
Plot 
 
3.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by Jillian R

Synopsis: It
is 1947, and fifteen-year-old Evie Spooner's life is slowly returning
back to normal. Her stepfather, Joe, has just come back from the war.
Joe decides that they all need a break; "a much-needed vacation." Just
like that, Evie and her parents pack their bags and head on for the
trip.
They
travel down from New York to Florida, where almost instantly, they meet
a young ex-GI named Peter Coleridge, who served with Joe in the war. It
is not at all difficult to like this young man; charming, handsome,
respectful, mysterious, and kind. Soon, Evie Spooner finds herself
falling in love with him. But with this seemingly perfect situation,
she also soon finds that things around her are just not what it seems.
What I Saw and How I Lied shows a coming-of-age story of a young girl, who suddenly finds herself stuck in a web of lies, betrayal, and deceit.

Review: First, let me already say that I liked this book. I thought the plot was very original, and the writing was very simple
but beautiful. I didn't feel as if any of the characters or their
situations were cliche and over-the-top. I liked that it was a fast
read, and that in its entirety, was very mysterious.
Another strength that this young adult book has is its ambiguity. It's one of those, 'You think you know what's going on, but you have no idea' sort
of thing, and I find that extremely intriguing. Add on to that the very
innocent and charming character of Evie Spooner, who I liked and rooted
for the entire time. Yes, she is indeed a very naive girl, but I think
this added to her likability factor, as weird as this may sound. Maybe
it's because we've all been naive before, in one way or another?

That being said, I have to say that overall, I enjoyed this book. It is not great, and
is far from being a favorite of mine, but I liked it nonetheless. It is
well-written, has a creative story, and has a main character that we
can all somehow empathize with.
Do I recommend it? I
do, actually -- but only to certain readers. If you don't usually read
YA books, but would like to check some titles out, this might not be
such a good pick for you. However, if you read YA books already to
begin with, go ahead and try it out.
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An Amazingly Vivid Picture of an Era
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by Super Reader Girl

Judy
Blundell is an extremely talented author. She paints an amazingly vivid
picture of an era - the styles, the people, the setting, the feel - and
makes you fell almost as if you lived it. I wondered at first if maybe
she had. She did her research well.



The story consists of the painfully honest and startlingly clear
recollections of a 15-year-old girl's experiences during one season of
her life. It tells of how greed, want, love, and especially war can
influence people to do things they normally would not.


The first chapter takes place near the end of the narrator's story,
giving us a foreshadowing of unpleasant things to come. Then she delves
into what has happened to her up to this point, beginning shortly after
the end of World War II. We see what she saw and experienced from her
then mostly naive point of view, only with our own new shared knowledge
that something is not right. We can see what she missed the first time
around only too clearly. We keep wanting for it not to be true and find
ourselves almost wishing for the naivete with which Evie originally
experienced the story.



I thought the story was very well written. It was definitely a
"page-turner" and I finished it in one sitting, staying up until almost
2am. :) I, however, do not know that I would recommend it to most of my
friends. It contains some sex, as well as murder and a lot of deceit,
so it cannot be categorized a "clean read". I did like the picture
painted of the era and the way the main character tried to bring
something good away from something truly bad.



(Super Reader Girl Reviews: http://superreadergirlreviews.blogspot.com/)
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Not what I expected.
Overall rating 
 
3.0
Plot 
 
3.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by Suzanne

Set in the 50's, the main character is spun into a web of lies concerning her new step-dad, and his sketchy history. When she falls in love with the mature enemy of her father, she's stuck between which side to take. After a fatal boat accident, she learns the truth,and has to decide if her family is worth saving. Disappointing ending, but OK overall.
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Jaw-dropping!
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by Amy Ward

The cover of this book was enought to sell me.  I see why it's a National Book Award Winner.  The character of Evie is so wonderful.  She's a girl you would want to know, be friends with.  And Peter.  What girl wouldn't fall in love with him?  I really can't say enough about this book.  I could tell you how much I loved it, how it sucked me right in.  But to truly understand, you have to read it yourself.  The plot is so artistically woven together.  And Evie grows so much over the course of the book.  She even outgrows her parents, which is a good thing in this instance.  I can't recommend this book enough!  One of the best books I have read so far! 
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What Did She Really See...
Overall rating 
 
2.0
Plot 
 
2.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by KK

The main character of this book is Evie, a 15 year-old girl who matures very quickly throughout the book when she comes to realize her parents are not the people she thought they were. When her stepfather Joe returns home from the war, he announces to the family that they are going to Palm Beach on vacation, which seems slightly strange to Evie. A lot of shady things happen while they are on "vacation." Joe, Evie's stepfather makes a business deal with the Grayson family, another couple staying at the hotel, and Evie falls in "love" with an ex-GI that Joe happens to know. Ironic right? Especially there is the fact that Joe does not want Evie or her mother spending time with Peter, the ex-GI. There is a terrible secret that Evie wants to discover, and needs to when everything begins to fall apart. This book contains murder, love, and deception.

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A awesome book
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by Lianne

Evie is fifteen years old and lives with her parents in Queens during the 1940s right after the war ended. Everything is going to be perfect now that her Step Dad Joe has come back from the war. But, when Joe begins to get phone calls from people he knew during the war, he decides to take Evie and her Mother down to Florida. At first everything in Florida is great, people are nice and the hotel that they are staying at is comfortable and fancy. But, then Evie meets Peter Coleridge, who knew Joe during the war. Evie soon finds herself falling in love with Peter but, soon things get out of control and Peter ends up dead. Now Evie's parents are the main suspects in the case and it is up to Evie to help but, who does she owe more to her parents or her first love?


THOUGHTS


Wow, this book was amazing. Throughout the book I was constantly guessing and I loved it like crazy! Evie was a strong independent narrator and I loved reading the story from her prospective! I loved the ending of the book too. I didn't really have any major things that I did not like about the book, for the most part I really enjoyed it!
"Reprinted with author's permission"
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history
Overall rating 
 
3.0
Plot 
 
3.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by stephanie

I was very disappointed after reading What I Saw and How I Lied. Why? Because it wasn't what I had expected.



Yes, this book did have a lot of mysterious aspect to it and I expected that but I guess...I expected more? In what? I have no idea. I just thought the overall, the book would be better. What I did like from this was the author's ability to slowly bring clues in - little by little. There was a lot of guesswork and suspicions that I had enjoyed.



Evie, the girl who, at the end, had to choose between her family or the man she loved. I wasn't too surprised at what she chose, however, I was surprised on how she went about in doing it. I guess it was the only way, now that I think about it.



The ending was kind of melodramatic. It was more of a depressed ending with everyone relieving what had happened and wallowing in what they had learned. This was probably one of the reason why I wasn't too "yay!" about this book. But if you like depressed endings with some war emphasis, then maybe check this book out.
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Evie, Bev and Blackmail
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by Alicia Kaiah Mason

What I saw and how I lied, was a phenomonel book. It had the perfect amount of mystery and romance, and a twist you would never come to happen. All in a simple book.

This book takes place in the 1940's and tells a tradgic tale of Evie Spooner, a fifteen-year-old girl living in Queens, a small yet nice town. A child of Bevery Spooner, and a man she never really met, her life was never full...antil now. Previous to WW II, Evie's mother had married a charming man, named Joe Spooner, quite a catch fo him, Bev's a dish. Well, Joe's moping lands the happy family in Palm Beach, Floida...in the off season. They had landed in a ghost town, and this is already a bad start. It's amazing how you can go from being not bored at all, to bored out of your mind in the time it takes to tie your shoe.


But soon, Evie meets a "hunk", an ex G-I named Peter Coleridge. He's gorgeous, loaded, and older. Soon though, there's an awful happening, and Evie is surrounded by lies. Someone has to be redeamed, someone betrayed...but who?

What I Saw and How I Lied is a real page-turner, and will have young readers reading through the night. It has a great theme, though I found it too short. I would have liked about 300 pages more, but, it's not my choice. All I can say is, I loved this book, and it kept me reading for endless moments, and with dashes of almost all genres, is sure to keep anyone interested. The ending is a knockout, a surprise...and to find out, I guess you'll just have to read What I saw and How I Lied and see what I mean.


 


 

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Growing Up Is Never Easy...Especially for Evie
Overall rating 
 
3.0
Plot 
 
3.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by Stephanie

After her stepfather Joe returns home from serving in the Second World War, 15-year-old Evie Spooner believes that things can now return to normal. No more rationing, no more faking, no more worrying with her beautiful mother Bev if he will be in a particular battle on a particular day.

However, things from Joes war past seem to come back to haunt him, and he spontaneously moves his family down to a hotel in Palm Beach, Florida. There they befriend the Graysons, a wealthy-looking couple, and Peter Coleridge, a handsome young man who knew Joe from the war. Joe doesnt seem to like Peter, and Evie cant figure out why. She certainly likes him very much, as they go out to town together with Bev and occasionally have romantic encounters.

But something is seriously wrong with this group. Lies, betrayals, and hatred arise, culminating in a devastating event that forces Evie to choose whether to be loyal to her parents or be just. Bev cant hide Evie behind a makeup-less face and childish dresses anymore; its time for Evie to grow up and face the complex adult world.

Judy Blundell packs so much into this small but giant book. Issues regarding anti-Semitism, family loyalty, love, growing up, and lying all come up, among others. While I thought Evie seemed over-the-top naïve sometimes with relationship tensions that are obvious to readers, Blundell does a fantastic job of making her grow up through the book. WHAT I SAW AND HOW I LIED is by no means perfect, but its a good read if youre looking for a historical suspense coming-of-age story.
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