Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Review: What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell

Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: November 1st, 2008

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.
As she begins to realize that almost everything she believed to be a truth was really a lie, Evie must get to the heart of the deceptions and choose between her loyalty to her parents and her feelings for the man she loves. Someone will have to be betrayed. The question is... who?
(Courtesy of Goodreads)

If your have been reading my reviews very long, you know that Historical Fiction is not my favorite genre; I never cared much for History in school and I would much rather read about what COULD happen than what already has.  That said, this review may be somewhat biased...

I picked up What I Saw and How I Lied as a part of a challenge in one of my Goodreads groups.  I like challenges because it is really the only way I read outside of my comfort zone.  I'm an overly competitive person and I will "suffer" through the task of reading a book I normally wouldn't for the sake of winning...  Well, this last quarterly challenge in my Wild Things YA Group assigned the task of "reading both a past National Book Award Winner and Nominee from the same year".  Well, I don't typically agree with the choices the judges of book awards make, so I kind of groaned when I saw this.  This book won the YA National Book Award in 2008.  Do I agree? Absolutely not.  Books like The Hunger Games, Graceling, The Knife of Never Letting Go, and Paper Towns were released in 2008; not one of these books was even nominated, all were much better.  Does this mean I didn't like this book?  No.  

As far as Historical Fiction goes, this is one of the better books I've read.  I actually quite enjoyed it.  It reminded me of the excellent television show, Mad Men.  I felt like it captured what I know of that era (and despite my advanced age, I have no first-hand knowledge, although my grandparents definitely do).  It was a well written, compelling story that had a nice mystery unfold.  It made me think about how innocent teens were during those times compared to when I was a teenager, and how much "older" the teens now are compared to even then.  Things were so simple then, but the emotions of the typical teen girl were very much the same.  I enjoyed riding Evie's emotional roller-coaster.  

This story started out well, but it did kind of drag for about 60 pages in the middle.  After that it picked up and was quite a page turner.  I never felt like I couldn't put this book down, but I didn't feel the need to put it down to read something else, if that makes any sense.  I wasn't thrilled with the ending of this book because I had a lot of feelings about how the story unfolded, but the ending made sense and I respect authors who don't wrap a book up with a neat, happy ending.  Overall, I liked this book.  Is it one that I feel a need to add to my personal bookshelf and tell everyone I know to read it?  No.  Although I enjoyed it, I don't feel like I would have been missing out on anything if I hadn't read it.  It would be a great read for a HS History class exploring that era or a person who is a fan of Historical Fiction and/or shows like Mad Men. 

My Rating: ★ ★ ★  

Grade Level Recommendation:  Perfectly acceptable for middle school and up (ages 10+).  Because the writing stays true to the era, it is quite clean.  I would let my 5th grader read it if I thought she would have any interest in it, but this is honestly a book that would appeal to adults more than teens.

**Don't forget to enter my AWESOME giveaway of an audio copy of the AMAZING All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin HERE!**

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