What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell
Evie’s stepfather is back from the war. Everyone made sacrifices then, including Evie and her mother. They moved in with Joe’s, the stepfather’s, mom. It was not a pleasant experience. When Joe comes back, he opens up some appliance stores. He’s marginally successful. He says he wants to take the family in vacation, in Florida, so they go.
They go to Palm Beach, hardly anyone is there. It’s the off-season. The family has fun for a few days, giving everyone else in the hotel nicknames. They soon meet some of the other people. There’s another couple, Evie’s parents soon become friends with them, even to the extent of striking a business deal.
A strange phone call before the family left, seems harmless enough, but Evie learns the phone call will was actually a harbinger of things to come.
Evie sneaks into a school dance at the hotel. She dresses up. She doesn’t want to dance with the bellhop who works there, but someone does dance with her, a man named Peter. He’s twenty-three. He’s staying at the hotel. He was in the war, with her step-father. He charms Evie and Evie thinks she is in love, at not quite sixteen.
The two go out, with Evie’s mother, but what Evie doesn’t realize is that Evie’s mother is closer to Peter, than Evie suspects.
Peter and Evie get to know one another more. There’s this story, about college, about a wealthy family. Peter tells a story about doing something horrible in Europe. There’s money involved. Evie’s stepfather is involved.
One day, Evie’s mother, stepfather, and Peter, the man Evie thinks she loves, go out on a boat, before a hurricane. Evie rides out the hurricane alone with strangers. Her parents do turn back up, but Peter doesn’t. There’s this story Evie is supposed to tell. Things didn’t actually happen the way Evie remembers. Truths come out about Peter that change Evie’s mind about him, but she knows she and her mother have to stick together like glue. She says what she has to.
What I liked
Intrigue upon intrigue–who is really the good guy? Is there a good guy? Is Evie even good? What you think is the mystery really isn’t the mystery. Everyone seems to have secrets.
This book plays on the naiveté of teenagers as a major plot point. Evie thinks she loves Peter and Evie’s mother does nothing to combat that thought. She lets Evie believe in her naiveté that Peter might love her.
There is this ethical dilemma–tell the truth and lose something dear or lie and keep that something dear.
What I didn’t like
I don’t like the idea of people trying to convince other people that their memories are wrong. It’s basically trying to make another person crazy, to doubt themselves. If a person cannot trust themself, who can they trust? How can reality have any purchase in their lives if they can’t trust themself?
It’s infuriating, perhaps because it’s happened to me, that someone would talk to another person, telling them that things didn’t happen the way they remembered, all so someone can win an argument, or get away with something. I can’t label either of Evie’s parents as good because of this fact. Once you cross the line of trying to make someone doubt themself, you’ve taken on some evil qualities.
In the end, nobody in this story is good, but the worst people are the ones who convince others that their memories are wrong.
Teenagers–good Lord, “but I love him,” no, no you don’t. You’ve barely been wiping your own butt for a decade, you can’t understand the complexity of being in a serious relationship.
Your family is your family, and sometimes, you lie for them.
Would you cover for a family member if they broke the law?
Would you cover for a family member if they broke the law and tried to convince you that your memory was wrong?