By Judy Blundell
Published by Scholastic
ISBN 978 1 407114 95 8
Life for 15-year old Evie Spooner is good. Her stepfather, Joe, has come back from fighting in the second world war, and is working hard to build a new future for Evie and her mom. It's 1947 and things are going well as life in New York gets back on track after the war years.
Bev, Evie's mom, looks just like a movie star, with her platinum blond hair and bright red lipstick. People turn their heads in the street to look twice at her as she walks along the pavement with Evie at her side. Evie knows she lives in the shadow of her elegant mother, but that doesn't worry her. Joe loves them both equally, and that makes her feel safe. Joe is her hero, and she is sure to look like Bev when she's older.
One day, seemingly on a whim, Joe tells Bev and Evie that he is taking them on a surprise holiday in the glamorous resort of Palm Beach. He intends to take his two girls to a posh hotel and show them the high life and sunshine after the greyness and worries of the past few years.
Down in Florida, the Spooners meet the wealthy Mr and Mrs Grayson who take the family under their experienced wings. Whatever can the world-wise Graysons want with the ordinary Spooners from Brooklyn? They also meet the mysterious Peter Coleridge, a 20-something war veteran who remembers Joe from the war.
The Graysons and Peter Coleridge home in on Evie and her mom and stepdad with unnerving accuracy. Things seem incredibly friendly at the start, but it soon becomes obvious that these newcomers have agendas that will eventually lead to tragedy.
What I Saw And How I Lied is a both a smart thriller and a coming-of-age novel. American author Judy Blundell is obviously fascinated by the glamour of post-war United States, and translates this expertly into an intriguing and original novel for young adults.
The times and places of What I Saw And How I Lied may seem a million miles and years away from books that today's teens are used to, but this is part of the novel's strength.
Blundell is a classy, careful writer whose stylish language and clever retro dialogue takes the reader through a maze of secrets, lies and hidden emotions. The way she uses dialogue to move the story along and reveal the motives of those involved is outstanding.
What I Saw is the story of a teenager who slowly discovers that everything she thought she knew is really a lie. Some things are never meant to be revealed, but when they are, the effect can be devastating.
John Millen can be contacted on MillenBookshelf@aol.com