What I Saw and How I Lied
By Matt Berman,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Sophisticated, mature mystery better for older teens.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Can lead to some good discussions about YA verus adult books. See our "What to Talk About" section for some ideas.
This book deals with some heavy themes, including racism against African Americans and Jews. Evie's parents lie, steal, and may have committed murder. Even so, it's a coming-of-age story in which the narrator -- and the readers -- must think about important ideas, such as who deserves loyalty.
Positive Role Models
This is a coming-of-age story and readers will see Evie grow up and have to live in a more complex world. Evie lies under oath to get her parents acquitted, but as the School Library Journal review notes that "In many ways she becomes the adult in the group, motivated by truth and justice rather than greed or superficial appearances."
Violence & Scariness
A man is murdered, possibly by the main character's parents, but it's not described.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A girl has a crush on an older man: they kiss passionately and nearly have sex but are interrupted. The same girl begins to have sex with a boy rather graphically, but she stops him in the middle. Adults have extramarital affairs, some discussion of sex, growing breasts, "screwing."
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Some mild swearing: "damn," "son of a bitch."
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Products & Purchases
Cigarette, soda, candy, lotion, liquor, car, and cracker brands mentioned.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Lots and lots of adult smoking, drinking of beer and cocktails, drunkenness.
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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.
Where to Read
Based on 2 parent reviews
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2 thumbs up!
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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?
- Author: Judy Blundell
- Genre: Mystery
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Scholastic Press
- Publication date: November 1, 2008
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 12
- Number of pages: 284
- Last updated: July 12, 2017
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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Where to Read
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