Review: What I Saw and How I Lied

Review: What I Saw and How I LiedWhat I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell
Published by Scholastic on November 1, 2008
Genres: Historical, Mystery, Romance
Pages: 284
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Goodreads
two-half-stars

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.

First Sentence: “The match snapped, then sizzled, and I woke up fast.”

Review:
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.

Favorite Quote:

Look at them eating toast — how can they be so heartless?

9 responses to “Review: What I Saw and How I Lied”

  1. ewwww 23 year old to a 15 year old. That’s yucky, I don’t think I could buy into that romance either. This is another historical, so it’s not really one for me but I always love to see what you think! It does sound like it could have had a good fluffy plot had the characters been better and the romance not so creepy.

    • Christina says:

      Right? Ick! Especially since she’s not at all a mature 15 year old. She’s very childish, and he’s very much not. It squicked me out. Also, it got way worse too!

  2. Sorry it didn’t totally wow you, although it sounds really interesting despite the predictability. If I know it won’t be life changing going in, I would probably enjoy this. Awesome review!

  3. Renae says:

    Woah, that totally sounds awesome! I would have bought that one without hesitation based on jacket summary. Unfortunate that it didn’t meet expectations. Though I must admit that, after duking it out with Anna Godbersen, I may have come to a new appreciation for dramatic historical fiction.

  4. Casey says:

    I’ll be curious to see how you like her other book since I pretty much felt the same way about this one that you did. (omg, I had read a book before you. this might be a first :P) but I would be willing to give her, as an author, another try if I heard good things.

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