In What I Saw and How I Lied, the most important theme is never directly mentioned: the Holocaust and pillaging of an entire race of people. The stealing of the Jewish people’s property represents more than material possessions, however. It is ultimately about human heritage and the truth. Without our shared human history and the truth, there is nothing left upon which to build a life. Evie is the only character one who fully acknowledges this theme—including the hypocrisy and racism—and she is indignant.
This novel is also very much about adolescence and the issues that are primary to teens, namely being true to oneself and developing an identity separate from one's parents. Evie is a young teen at the beginning of the book, one who plays at adulthood by smoking candy cigarettes. However, by the end of the novel she is a young woman. She has undergone an eye-opening ordeal. She becomes infatuated, falls in love, and loses her innocence all in a very short time. In addition, she learns about the true nature of those whom she thought she knew best—her mother and stepfather. She ultimately comes to terms with herself, defines who she is, and separates from the people around her. At the end of the novel, Evie has grown into a strong, self-assured young woman.