Evie lives in post Word War II Brooklyn with her bombshell mother and war veteran father. One day her father, Joe, comes home from work and abruptly announces that the family is taking a road trip to Florida. Evie can’t believe it; she feels as though her life is about to begin.
Evie’s family arrives in an off-season Palm Beach settling in a posh hotel that they pretty much have to themselves. Soon, however Evie’s father’s past catches up with him when gorgeous Peter Coleridge, a young ex-GI who served with Joe in Europe, joins the family on vacation. Evie quickly finds herself falling for the mysterious and seductive Peter. Although Evie is excited to spend her vacation with Peter, it quickly becomes clear that her father, Joe, is not as happy as she is. What Evie doesn’t know is she’s not the only one who may be interested in Peter and that her father and Peter may have more of a history than they’ve let on. Soon Evie understands that almost everything she believed to be truth was really a lie as her family is entangled in a scandal that forces Evie to grow up much faster than she ever really wanted.
This is Blundell’s first novel, which won the National Book Award in 2008. What I Saw and How I Lied really captivated me from the beginning; I mean, just the title alone made me snatch this one off the shelve as soon as I saw it! Also, historical coming-of-age fiction centered around a post World War II America? Yes please! Plus, Evie is such a believable character; you really grasp the frustration she feels for being in that middle space between girlhood and womanhood, as well as the longing she feels for adulthood (or what she thinks is adulthood).
Some of the content isn’t suitable for younger teen readers (i.e. some mild sexual situations), but is more appropriate for older teens. However, think that although the title will get some teens wondering, not all will enjoy it as the story does start out slowly and is set in 1947. As sad as it makes me historical fiction is not a super popular genre among teens today. If you know you (or your teen) has enjoyed historical fiction in the past, this one will probably be a good choice.
All in all, a pretty intriguing read.