Jessika Keller is a good girl: she obeys her father, does her best to impress Herr Fisher at the Bund Deutscher Mädel meetings and is set to be a world champion ice skater. Her neighbour Clementine is not so submissive. Outspoken and radical, Clem is delectably dangerous and rebellious. And the regime has noticed. Jess cannot keep both her perfect life and her dearest friend. But which can she live without?
Review by Katy Haye:
Virginia Bergin recommended I read some Julie Mayhew (in September’s Book Bites) and I’m REALLY glad she did.
I spotted this in my local Waterstones, picked it up and I was hooked from the moment I turned to the back and saw “Nazi England, 2014”. I bought it and gobbled it up in two days.
As you might guess from the blurb and that tagline, The Big Lie kept the question, “What would you do in that situation?” constantly in my head.
I found it particularly fascinating because the regime was well-established and utterly “normal” for our protagonist Jessika. In contrast to most YA dystopian fiction, the government wasn’t sitting waiting to be overthrown by a band of plucky teens. It was vibrant and not about to change. Trapped inside it, there was little way for Jessika to know that something different was even possible, never mind desirable.
Jessika’s journey from naive acceptance to questioning to protest was gripping, and extremely real – she’s no kick-ass Katniss trying to bring down a regime. Faced with a dawning understanding that she didn’t fit with what others expected, she was just trying to work out what was right for her.
Most YA fiction (if not most of all fiction) can be viewed as the protagonist figuring out who they are and how they fit into their world. I was absorbed spending time with Jessika and seeing how she didn’t fit in and how she dealt with that discovery.
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