… there are all these layers and categories when it comes to lies. Fibbing is a nicer word, but means the same thing as lying as far as I can tell. Then there are white lies and black lies, lies you need to tell so people don’t get offended, and lies that stop people panicking. It’s all so confusing.
(What Lexie Did by Emma Shevah. P33.)Synopsis:
Lexie comes from a big Greek Cypriot family. She reckons ‘cousin’ isn’t a big enough word to describe her relationship with Eleni. They’re practically twins. When Eleni was born, she nearly died because of her heart condition. Everyone says it was baby Lexie who saved Eleni’s life, by lying alongside her in the hospital cot. They’ve been close all their lives.
Lexie thought nothing could come between her and Eleni. That was before the picnic and the whole truth-and-lies saga. When Lexie tells the truth at a family picnic, everyone calls her a tell-tale. Next time she is asked an awkward question, she tells a lie. A big, fat lie which splits her family apart.
Can Lexie find a way to put things right?Review:
Think My Big Fat Greek Wedding from the perspective of a ten-year-old. A fib about a family heirloom splits a family apart in the run-up to a wedding.
Emma Shevah is brilliant at showing the interactions between children. Think games and routines and giggles. Think sibling-squabbles and looking out for your family. Lexie and Eleni have a close relationship until new-girl Anastasia arrives. A friendship triangle ensues, with lots of tension and drama. This novel has a strong voice. Lexie is funny and philosophical and loves lexicography. She is always trying to think of new words and phrases for her notebook.
The main theme is integrity. Younger children are taught to tell the truth as if it is a golden rule. As they reach adolescence they learn that it isn’t that simple. The truth can upset people, other people get away with blatant lies, and there will be times when two people’s differing truths are equally valid. The novel’s message is realistic. It encourages children to think of truth as a guiding principle rather than a golden-rule.
A note at the back of the book explains how much research Shevah did to write a Greek Cypriot family. This really shines through. From food to family to Grandparents overly-obsessed with tradition, the book is like a window into an authentic life.
Warm-hearted, relatable and laugh-out-loud funny. Thumb-up for Lexie and her ginormous family.
Huge thanks to Chicken House Books for my copy of What Lexie Did. Opinions my own.