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The Big Lie (Hardcover)
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In a gripping novel set in present-day England under a Nazi regime, a sheltered teen questions what it means to be “good” — and how far she’s willing to go to break the rules.
Nazi England, 2014. Jessika Keller is a good girl — a champion ice skater, model student of the Bund Deutscher Mädel, and dutiful daughter of the Greater German Reich. Her best friend, Clementine, is not so submissive. Passionately different, Clem is outspoken, dangerous, and radical. And the regime has noticed. Jess cannot keep both her perfect life and her dearest friend, her first love. But which can she live without? Haunting, intricate, and unforgettable, The Big Lie unflinchingly interrogates perceptions of revolution, feminism, sexuality, and protest. Back matter includes historical notes from the author discussing her reasons for writing an “alt-history” story and the power of speculative fiction.
About the Author
Julie Mayhew is the author of Red Ink. She has written plays for radio and the stage and is the cofounder and host of a short-story cabaret and the head of a writers’ workshop. Julie Mayhew lives in England.
Mayhew explores the very unnerving scenario of a world in which the Nazi regime is still in power and thriving—and why...Terrifying and eerily timely, this is a difficult read—emotionally—for mature readers. An excellent choice for most YA shelves.
—School Library Journal (starred review)
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.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Readers who know their World War II history and enjoy extremely unreliable narrators will find great satisfaction in puzzling out the truth behind the horrors Jess leaves unspoken.
Mayhew’s careful research and richly detailed plot create a frighteningly real world, and her thoughtful afterword explicitly spells out questions about our right and responsibility to create change through revolution.
Mayhew offers an intelligent, complex view of a dystopian society, one that reflects historical realities and, chillingly, our current world as well. In writing that’s quick, fresh, and witty she implicitly challenges readers, the “you” to whom Jess’s narrative is addressed, to choose between asking questions (“because you can”) and the alternative: “It’s all so easy, I don’t really have to think at all.”
Beyond its alternate history premise, the book deftly examines the ways in which gender roles and sexuality play out under a society that strictly delineates them...There are surprises for both Jess and the reader in the ending, making this a timely piece for teens to consider what pacifism and/or protest looks like and the costs each entail; an author’s note explains her inspiration.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Frightening in its realness, The Big Lie is a standout: a warning, a call to action, and a terrific novel.
This haunting, deeply disturbing novel will stay with you long after the final page is turned.
Mayhew includes helpful historical notes and English translations of the German used in this fast-paced, imaginative story.