What I Saw And How I Lied Essay - Critical Essays

Judy Blundell

Literary Criticism and Significance

What I Saw and How I Lied is Judy Blundell’s first young adult novel. In 2008, it won the National Book Award for children’s literature. The book received excellent reviews from many critics who claimed that it is filled with meaning and exposes post-WWII racism, sexism, and socioeconomic class divisions. In an interview with School Library Journal, Judy Blundell says she has written over 100 best-selling books as a ghost writer or under a pen name, but What I Saw and How I Lied“is the first with my name on it.”

Publishers Weekly claims that the novel could easily be imagined as a film staring Lana Turner because it is so highly evocative of that era: “Blundell throws Evie’s inexperience into high relief with slangy, retro dialogue. Readers can taste Evie’s alienation and yearning. It’s a stylish, addictive brew.”

Phillip Ardagh, writing for The Guardian, also praises Blundells’s novel, especially for how it accurately evokes the time period through dialogue and attention to detail: "The sense of period is nicely evoked and never overplayed. There’s talk of Joan Crawford in Mildred Pierce. Fashions are beautifully conveyed. But where Blundell really scores is with the nuances and the vagaries of the time.”

Young Adult Books Central lauds the novel for its coming-of-age tale: "Judy Blundell gifts us with living, breathing pictures of loss of innocence, first love and the choice between truths and lies. This coming-of-age story will stick with the reader long after the mystery is solved."

Unlike other young adult novels and coming-of-age stories, What I Saw and How I Lied stands out for exploring the Holocaust and the social repercussions of that event in history on the lives of young people.