Blundell, Judy. (2008). What I Saw and How I Lied. New York: Scholastic Press.
Textbook Chapter: 6
Subgenre: Mystery/ Suspense
Possible Curriculum Connections: Social Studies- Post World War II society in America; Mystery/ Suspense study
What I Saw and How I Lied is a book set in the United States in 1947. World War II had recently ended and life was returning to normal in America. The main character of the novel, teenager Evie Spooner, and her mother Bev have just welcomed home Evie’s stepfather, Joe Spooner, back from the War. Everyone was happy, but Joe had a secret. He told Bev and Evie that they were going on vacation to Florida to “get away” but really, he owed a fellow soldier, Peter Coleridge, money from an underhanded deal they made in the War.
In Florida, Peter catches up with the Spooner family. Evie and Bev do not realize that there is trouble, and Joe tries to play it cool. However, Evie develops a crush on Peter, and Bev also has a secret affair with Peter. Joe knows something is going on with his wife and Peter, and things really get interesting! Joe, Peter, and Bev go out on a boat ride right before a hurricane hits Florida, and Peter never returns. Joe and Bev say he was washed overboard and they could not rescue him, but when his body is found, the authorities suspect foul play. Joe and Bev were put on trial, and although Evie knows her stepfather killed Peter, she lies and testifies that she was the one having an affair with Peter, and that her stepfather never could have killed Peter. Both Joe and Bev were cleared of all charges, and life continued as normal for the Spooner family.
Personal Reaction/ Why Teenagers Would Read this Book:
I loved this book! Although it was a little slow at first, the plot really picked up the pace after the first few chapters. I think that the novel encompasses many themes that young adults would enjoy. First of all Evie Spooner is kind of an outcast in her home in New York, and struggles to find herself as they journey to Florida. She is changing from a plain looking child, to a mature woman, and she continues to mature as the novel progresses. Secondly, the novel discusses what Evie calls her first love, but what others see as just as childhood crush. I know that teenagers could definitely relate to how adults perceive their relationships at a young age. Also, there is a mystery aspect to the novel which would intrigue the reader and make them want to keep reading! Overall, I thought this was an excellent young adult novel!
What I Saw and How I Lied won the National Book Award for the Young People’s Literature Category in 2008. The National Book Award is administered by the National Book Foundation and has been awarded since 1950. It is given to writers, by writers. The National Book Award has four categories: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and young people’s literature. Publishers nominate books each year, and 20 judges decide who wins in each category. The judges are made up of authors who write in different genres of literature. The winners of the National Book Award receive $10,000 and a bronze statue, as well as public recognition of their excellent works. (Source: (2012). How the National Book Awards Work. Retrieved from http://www.nationalbook.org/nba_process.html. )
I believe What I Saw and How I Lied won the National Book Award because it was well-written, thought provoking, and it appealed to the young adult audience. The themes of love versus lust, moral dilemmas, and coming of age all catch the reader’s attention and leave the reader wanting to read more! The novel also is relatively easy to read, but has more complex plot than a child’s novel. The book has unexpected twists and come to an amazing climax. The novel obviously caught the attention of the writers who were the judges for the book award, and I agree that it was worthy of a national award!