What I Saw and How I lied by Judy Blundell

This ended up coming across my GoodReads recommendations a while ago, so I added it to my “Want to Read” list because it sounded interesting. I was so excited when I found this in a charity shop for £1!

First, a synopsis from Amazon:

whatisawIt seemed like a dream. The world had exploded… Summer’s ending, Evie’s step-father is finally home from the Second World War, and Evie is sick of her glamorous mother treating her like a little girl. Then a mysterious stranger appears: a handsome ex-GI who served in combat with Evie’s step-father. Slowly, Evie realizes that she is falling in love with him. But he has dark secrets, and a strange control over her parents. When he is found dead, Evie’s world is shattered. Torn between her family and the man she loved, Evie must betray someone. But who? “Gripping … beautifully paced and told” The Times “You’ll be holding your breath as you turn every page” News of the World

Okay, I disagree with the synopsis. “Slowly, Evie realizes she is falling in love with him.” It wasn’t slowly at all. He pays attention to her at a time and in a place where she wasn’t receiving much attention at all, and she develops a huge crush on him. He is older, he is mysterious, and he thinks that she is beautiful.

I found this book to be gripping. Evie is straddling the line between girl and young adult, and she so desperately wishes to be thought of as a grown up. There’s an incredible struggle that is subtly played out between Evie and her mother.

I was really surprised to see that this book hasn’t been optioned for a film because it would make a stunning one. It’s very noir, addresses several important issues that arose after WWII, and personalizes them for the audience beautifully.

First, there is the identity of the Jewish population in America post-WWII. How can the soldiers who fought abroad to help stop the termination of the Jewish population come back to America and treat the settled Jewish population so abysmally? I knew that there was some segregation and discrimination post-WWII, but not to the extent that the book points out. They were forbidden to even purchase property in some towns!

The next is, like I addressed a few paragraphs ago, that desperation to be seen as an adult when you’re right on the cusp of it. Evie’s mother doesn’t let her wear anything that may insinuate that she is over the age of 12. Other individuals they come across are encouraging Evie to recognize it herself, even if her mother doesn’t.

Another issue is truth versus loyalty. Loyalty to oneself, loyalty to family, and loyalty to those you feel an obligation to are called into question.

I especially loved the conclusion to this novel. It is Evie who gets to dole out justice as she sees fit after enduring such unfairness throughout the book.

The author’s website can be found here.

 

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