cover image The Big Lie

The Big Lie

Julie Mayhew. Candlewick, $17.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-7636-9125-7

Mayhew (Red Ink) imagines a present-day Britain under Nazi rule in the story of Jessika, a perfect daughter of both the Reich and her Reich minister father, who ends up becoming someone the state will not tolerate. Jessika moves around in time as she narrates: she’s 17, about to graduate and go off to skate camp when the book starts; she’s seven when she meets new neighbor Clementine, who becomes her best friend. Clementine has always been different, outspoken, and unconvinced of the regime’s claims, which worries Jessika. She knows her parents and the Reich are right, but she loves Clementine, both as a friend and as something more, which is a problem since homosexuality is illegal in her homeland. Mayhew manages two feats, both crucial: she creates a believable modern-day Nazi society built on rules, silence, and surveillance, and a compelling depiction of a girl caught between what she has always been taught and what she is coming to suspect is true. As Jessika discovers, the truth is both dangerous and liberating. Ages 14–up. Agent: Louise Lamont, LBA. (Nov.)