Want personalized picks that fit your family?
Set preferences to see our top age-appropriate picks for your kids.
What I Saw and How I Lied
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this National Book Award winner has references to and discussions of adulterous sex, a man almost has sex with a minor, and two minors begin to have sex but don't finish, this last incident described somewhat graphically. Also, all the adults smoke constantly and drink, sometimes to excess, and they lie, cheat, steal, and may get away with murder.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Just after WWII, Evie's stepfather, a just-returned soldier, drives Evie and her mother, Bev, from their home in Queens to Palm Beach, ostensibly for a vacation. There they meet, apparently coincidentally, a handsome young man whom Joe knew in the war, and Evie promptly begins falling in love with him. But she also begins to see that there are layers of secrets surrounding him, Joe, and Bev. And when tragedy occurs, and her parents are put on trial for a terrible crime, Evie has decide what is true, whom to believe, and what to do with that knowledge.
Is it any good?
It can be hard to define the difference between adult and young-adult fiction, and this noir-ish mystery, set in the '40s, certainly skirts the line, wherever that may be. Infused with ambiguous and questionable morality, driven by sexual awakening and relationships, and set in a period with very different values from those that prevail today, adults will find as much to enjoy in this riveting drama as older teens.
Author Judy Blundell, whose previous books are mostly Star Wars novels, here shows a confidence and sure touch when dealing with a very different type of book. The characterizations of both major and secondary characters are clear and vivid, the sense of place and time is palpable, and the mystery, though predictable, is compelling. The postwar era is evoked with a light touch, though the constant smoking by nearly all of the characters, while realistic, gets a bit tedious after a while. Nonetheless, it's an auspicious debut into the world of literary fiction.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what separates a YA novel from an adult novel. This noir-ish mystery, set in the '40s, certainly skirts the line, wherever that may be. Which category would you put it in?
Parents can talk about the differing values between the time depicted in the book and now. What parts would be less likely to happen now? What things were normal then and unusual now? Have we advanced or gone backwards since then? Why have these things changed?
For kids who love mystery and suspense
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.