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I ordered a used copy which said very good, so I was expecting very good. It came and there was a mark on the front from a sticker and a sticker on the back which left another mark when took off-the book itself is good though, I can read everything and seeing as I only paid two or three pounds opposed to six it was worth it-maybe not good for a present though.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 24 February 2010
I'm not sure what defines a book as being for teenagers / young adults and also not sure why this one is defined as such. It may be because it is written from the perspective of the teenage main character. However, it's very readable for adults as much as for teenagers. The storyline might not be quite gripping or quick paced enough to keep some younger readers riveted and subtleties may be lost on others. In fact it was probably 90 to 100 pages into the book before anything really `happened' and even then it was only a hint and quickly off the scent again.
I found the title "What I Saw And How I Lied" very attractive and expected a big mystery lead up to a massive lie and, hopefully a great ` being found out'. Sadly the book doesn't live up to the title and I found the storyline very average. It might suit the American audience more than British because of the vocabulary and writing style.
An absolutely fantastic title, as Philip Ardagh pointed out in his review of this book in the Guardian, and the cover is beautiful as well; mock-1940s with an extra dustjacket which reveals another set of cover art underneath. I suppose it was inevitable that I was going to be a little disappointed with the contents.
Although the start of the book is rather good - the scene-setting is done well, with evocative historical detail on fashions, films and food of the 1940s, and Evie is a very sympathetic character. Fifteen years old and living with her mother and stepfather in New York, she's swept away with little explanation to Palm Beach in Florida, where she falls in love with an ex-GI, Peter Coleridge, and begins to suspect that a number of secrets are being kept from her. There's also an interesting thread running through the book concerning anti-Semitism, which Blundell handles with great subtlety. However, when the plot really starts to thicken, I found myself losing interest. Blundell's measured and elegant writing of the early chapters is replaced by a rather more breathless and clichéd style, with obvious cliffhangers. The book eventually becomes entirely unbelievable, which is a shame.
Evie's sudden grasp at maturity at the end of the novel is rather inspiring, but also seems a little hurried, especially in comparison to the realism of her depiction in the novel's opening. As with the plot, I felt a lengthier and more complex handling of her character development wouldn't have gone amiss - this may be a `YA novel', but that doesn't mean it has to be shallow. Perhaps to be recommended to teenagers, who may have more patience with it than I had - or to anybody who wants a very light read.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 9 September 2009
The year is 1947, and the place Queens, New York. Fifteen-year-old Evie Spooner feels like life has returned to normal after the War. Her step-father Joe is back from serving as a GI, Evie's blonde bombshell mother Beverley is back to playing housewife, and Joe's mother - Grandma Glad - is annoying everyone. Day to day , mundane things. Evie longs to grow up and fill out her sweaters and wear lipstick and smoke! and be glamorous like her mother Joe suddenly takes the family on a trip to Florida to stay in Palm Beach in an hotel. Peter Coleridge: handsome, blonde, ex-GI who says that he served with Joe, turns up and becomes part of the circle of friends in the hotel along with another wealthy older couple. Evie hopes that things will never be mundane again and she develops a crush and fascination for him. The closer Evie gets to Peter, the more secrets she finds - not only Peter's but also secrets surrounding her own family and friends.
As the novel evolves Evie has to face these secrets and the lies that had been told to keep them, and challenge what she feels about herself and her family. The more she learns about the truth, and lies, the more Evie wonders if truth has anything to do with loyalty.
The book is well written and appears as a 1940s black and white film! Glamour , Intrigue , Suspicious death, Jealousy and Money all combine and surround a teenage girls summer of growing up and first love.
I would feel bad giving this book less that 3 stars as it is a decent story, well-written. However a coming-of-age tale of a teenage girl in 40s America isn't really something I could relate to or be particularly interested in. In an attempt to broaden my horizons I gave this book a good go but it turns of my horizons aren't quite that broad.
3.0 out of 5 starsSophisticated novel for young readers
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 5 September 2009
What is perhaps most striking about this book is the moral ambiguity. There isn't a single character here who is entirely what they seem, and they have all done some questionable things by the end of this dark and twisting tale. As an adult this is nothing new but for a book aimed at young people to take this route is courageous and unusual, and makes a very welcome change.
Personally I don't really agree with other reviewers who rave bout how it evokes the era so vividly and suggest it is appropriate for any age reader. I felt the references to the post-war era in American were pretty general (the main character wants to wear full skirts and tight belts, petrol was rationed) and I think most adults reading this would find it pretty light. I also don't feel the writing was particularly strong (though nor was it particularly weak). Generally, I suppose I would say this is a fairly average book made exceptional - for its intended audience - by the moal choices the characters make. It is, however, very different from the average teen romance and I applaud the author for taking the route she has.
3.0 out of 5 starsGood, but didn't meet my expectations
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 6 September 2009
This was fun to read, but was slightly dissapointing compared to my expectations. The back cover made me think it was some kind of supernatural read, which is the very section it's kept in in the book shops I saw it in. There is nothing like that in this book.
It was still interesting, following Evie, as one day her family decide to travel to a beachy town and she meets a mysterious (cliche I know) man. You gther very quickly that something dodgy is going on, the only question is what? This was the other point the book let me down, the big 'what I saw and how I lied' didn't turn out to be too shocking in my opinion. Still, it was a good read and I liked the old-fashioned America setting. If you want aninterestiong, short-ish read go for it, but don't have to high exepectations on the 'dark secret'.