The Big Lie – Julie Mayhew

Upon returning from my weekend away I had a few days before book group and a new book so fancied something I could easily read in that time. As usual my daughter had something suitable. The Big Lie imagines a world where the Germans won the war and Britain is part of the greater German state run by nazis. It tells the story of Jessica, a champion ice skater, model student and all round good girl and her friendship with Clementine who is outspoken and has radical and dangerous views. Over the course of their last summer at home we are witness to Jessica’s gradual realisation that everything is not quite as it seems and her inner turmoil as she tries to discern the truth from the lies. I loved the concept of this book and the details about what life for young people might be like if this had happened feel chillingly realistic.  Occasionally I felt there was too much previous general knowledge about nazi organisation and leadership assumed which might be tricky for some people but the general gist was always clear. For example it’s obvious that Jessica’s parents are a bit quite important people but what they do is all a bit shady, it would have been nice for these aspects to have been clearer. However it’s a really good and thought provoking read. Jessica, despite her naivety, is likeable and you really feel for her as she loses her innocence and trust in the world she has grown up in. The ending is unexpected but satisfying and leaves you thinking long after finishing. I particularly enjoyed reading the authors notes on the big lies we are surrounded by and shackled to in our society and how as individuals we have the power to ask ourselves if something is right and if not to do something about it. Another great YA read!

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The Story of Us – Dani Atkins

This was a book on my kindle, I can’t remember when I got it so it was probably a free one that I have put on as a back up for holidays. As I was heading away for a weekend and only taking the kindle I decided to give it a bash. It tells the story of Emma who, just a couple of weeks before marrying her childhood sweetheart Richard, is involved in a tragic car accident which changes everything. She is saved by a man called Jack, who it’s perfectly clear will be a new and superior love interest. What follows is much melodrama as Emma,  who we are obviously meant to like as she is so down to earth and normal, tries to decide which man to give her heart too alongside dealing with the death of her friends, the betrayal of her fiance and her mother’s dementia. This was a good enough book for a busy weekend away as I didn’t have to concentrate at all while reading it. The ending is pretty obvious almost from the beginning, the characters are two dimensional and the story is fairly contrived. Jack, despite attempts to make him seem brooding and intense, is very much a Disney style hero come to whisk Emma out of the second rate life she was going to settle for because she is a nice girl trying to please everyone. I am struggling to think of much more to say about it, I really don’t like to be negative about books as I applaud anyone who even attempts to write one however although this is certainly readable and by no means the worst thing I have ever read, it’s little better than mediocre.