I am normally not the one to pick up young adult literature, but What I Saw And How I Lied peaked my interest since it was such a departure from Judy Blundell’s famous series. (She penned the Star Wars books under her pen name, Jude Watson)
It is hard to sum up What I Saw without giving away the whole book, but here is a purposely vague outline. Set in 1947, What I Saw is narrated by Evie Spooner, an awkward 15-year old, living with her mother, Beverly, and recently-returned-from-war stepfather, Joe. Joe Spooner is a soldier turned businessman who married Beverly despite his mother’s advice; Beverly Spooner was only too happy to find some stability after raising Evie on her own. As for Evie, she languishes in the shade of her mother’s gorgeous looks, and yearns to grow up despite Beverly’s attempts to keep her as a child for as long as possible. Am impromptu trip to Florida seems like the ideal family vacation, until unexpected events disrupt their lives and change them forever. Hidden discontents are brought to light, secrets uncovered, betrayals recognized and Evie is propelled into adulthood by the lies around her.
What surprised me about What I Saw was how much meaning Judy Blundell was able to pack into this quick read. She masterfully created the 1940’s setting – from the prejudices and the notions about the right vs wrong behavior, to the full-skirted dresses cinched at the waist. Blundell also excelled at getting across Evie’s longing – for love, for acceptance, for being treated as an equal – and her strong resolve when her world comes crashing around her. And of course, it’s the suspense that kept me reading into the wee hours of the night. Each sentence felt like a glimpse of the final outcome, but not quiet, and kept me wondering how the story would turn out.