What I Saw and How I Lied - by Judy Blundell
"Evie's innocence and yearning are tangible and poignant."
Judy Blundell's What I Saw and How I Lied is a mystery novel set in 1947, just after World War II. Sixteen-year-old Evie Spooner is uprooted from her home in Queens, New York when her stepfather, Joe Spooner gets an unusual phone call shortly after returning from war and announcec they're going to Palm Beach, Florida. Her step-dad and mom, Beverly, the blonde bombshell, take Evie with them to Le Mirage Hotel where they meet the Graysons, a lovely couple that is eventually kicked out of the hotel for reasons shocking to Evie. They also meet the young and handsome ex-GI Peter Coleridge. Evie is enchanted by Peter's charm but learns that he may be hiding something terrible. She also learns she may not be the only one who's fallen in love with him. When a murder takes place, Evie and her family are thrown into a whirlwind of unfortunate events that force her to choose between love and family. Her naive desires blind her to the truth and lead her astray.
Evie is lied to by the people she loves most, she lies to others, and even lies to herself for most of the story. Her innocence and yearning are tangible and poignant. Her character's journey through self-discovery is a large part of the story's core. The book questions the humanity of the main characters and examines the extent to which people will lie to save their own skin, no matter what the cost to others. Blundell's writing style captures your attention and draws you in from the first sentence, "The match snapped, then sizzled, and I woke up fast." The first chapter leads into entirely engaging events that leave you guessing the whole way through. Its constant introduction of colorful, yet puzzling characters keeps you on your toes and cheering.
Blundell's references to celebrities like Frank Sinatra and Billie Holiday mark the decade and her descriptions of Revlon lipstick and candy cigarettes take the reader back. The jargon adds to the period with "he's a heel," "sour-grapey," "jeepers," and "blow a raspberry."
What I Saw and How I Lied is an excellent, gripping mystery for any young adult reader to enjoy. It's riveting and places the reader right beside Evie in her discoveries. Audiences will feel compelled to follow her journey to understand and face the hard truth. It's an excellent representation of how lies can spread and the damage they can cause. I would recommend this book for anyone who enjoys a good page-turning mystery.