What I Saw and How I Lied

What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell

Of course I had big expectations for this National Book Award Winner and they were very nicely met.  After World War II, Evie’s stepfather returns from the war and decides to turn his life around.  He buys a few appliance stores and it looks like Evie and her mother will be well off.  But when a strange phone call comes and they decide to head to Florida on the spur of the moment, everything becomes unsettled.  Living in a nearly-vacant hotel in Palm Springs, Evie falls in love with the charming Peter Coleridge who knew her stepfather during the war.  All is not as it seems and Evie must figure out the truth and then decide who to share it with.

The setting of this novel is amazingly vivid with the hotel and its rather surreal emptiness.  This same surreal feeling carries through the book, as reader lenses shift trying to find the truth in a sea of lies.  Evie is a fascinating main character, struggling with becoming an adult, often frightened but not showing it, and filled with much more moxie than most.  She wasn’t an entirely likeable character, which I find an intriguing part of great teen novels. 

Highly recommended.  This is a historical novel that will appeal to teens who enjoy modern literature about risk, love and truth.  Lots to grapple with here, this manages to be a novel with depth that reads easily.