Blundell, Judy. 2008. WHAT I SAW AND HOW I LIED. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 9780439903462 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]
Set in post-World War II Florida, the book explores how secrets, deceptions, and prejudices can destroy families, friendships, and safety. After Evie’s stepfather, Joe, returns home from the war, life seems pretty normal—school, friends, family dinners. Once again, life is safe, happy, and prosperous. But when a soldier from his unit keeps trying to contact Joe, the family leaves for an extended vacation in Florida. Evie’s parents quickly make friends with the Graysons, another couple from New York and the men discuss a business partnership. Evie who is at that awkward age of no longer being a child but not quite yet old enough to date meets Peter, a handsome young GI who squires her and her mother around the town and gives special attention to Evie but seems to have some kind of scary hold on Joe. When Peter is murdered, suspicion falls on Evie and her parents. As the business deal also falls through because the Grayson’s are Jewish and Evie and her mother are questioned about Peter’s murder, Evie must choose between the truth and saving her family.
A compelling blend of coming-of-age and mystery, this book won the National Book Award for Young Adult Literature.
The book is a perfect choice for a teen book club for discussion, but would probably appeal more to girls than boys. It also is a good book for talking about prejudice and the harm it can do.
Other historical mysteries:
Dunlop, Susanne. THE MUSICIAN’S DAUGHTER. ISBN 9781599903323
Other Post World War II novels:
Klages, Ellen. THE GREEN GLASS SEA. ISBN 9780142411490
Klages, Ellen. WHITE SANDS, RED MENACE. ISBN 9780670062355
By Janet Hilbun