Sarah's Stars

Judy Blundell. What I Saw and How I Lied
Scholastic $18.99 ISBN 978-0-439-90346-2  281 pg.
Reviewed by Lindsey, Age 15

It's 1947, and the Second World War has finally ended. Evie's stepfather has returned to his home in New York City and the close-knit family is off on a roadtrip to Palm Beach, Florida that includes plenty of chilled lemonade, palm trees and hot, sticky cars. Evie's beautiful mother Bev has always stolen the spotlight from her daughter, even if she's never meant to. But at the resort in Florida, Evie meets handsome, chivalrous and incorrigible Peter Coleridge, a former solider who worked with her stepfather overseas. The fifteen-year-old falls madly in love with the older man, even if it's wrong. But as their relationship starts and stops and starts again, Evie begins to realize that all is not well in perfect, sunny Florida. She learns some startling truths about her family and the other hotel guests and even Peter himself. And when a boating accident leads to her parents being accused of murder, it is clear to Evie that everything she thought was wrong and her whole world is about to be turned upside-down.

What I Saw and How I Lied is a highly unusual story. I've never read anything like it. It was equal parts mystery, romance and coming-of-age novel, all set in a deserted beach town after the war. Judy Blundell writes fluidly and with ease and the lush descriptions of Evie's life were so entirely delectable that even if some parts of the book were boring, it was so richly painted that I just had to keep reading. The vivid imagery of Palm Beach in the 1940's was just incredible, from the sunglasses and dresses, to the hotels and cars. Evie herself was a well-developed character, whose struggles and thoughts were heartfelt and real. In fact, all of the characters were complex and interesting, from the uncertainty of Evie, to the warmth of Joe and the carefree nature of Bev, yet we discover that everyone in the family has a dark side, and secrets to keep to themselves. The novel was breezy and tough, clandestine and colourful, all at the same time. I still have a few reservations about the ending, but all in all, this is not a novel to be missed.

I give Judy Blundell's What I Saw and How I Lied four-and-one-half stars.


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