My Rating: 4 Stars!
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publish Date: November 14th, 2017
Received: Netgalley provided an e-arc in exchange for an honest review
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.
Opening Sentence: “I am a good girl.”
The Big Lie is a novel of heartbreak, protest, oppression, freedom, and choice. It is not knowing what you truly stand for or what the people around you stand for. It is propaganda used at its finest. It is what it means when you have been forced to turn a blind eye for so long that you don’t know what to do when you see the truth.
It’s terrifying to think about what could have been if the German Nazi Regime was still up and running today. However, it is even more terrifying to think of how the people living within the regime would go about their lives not knowing anything was wrong and believing in a lie (and that anyone in any country today that controls what media you can consume and what things are legal and illegal to have could possibly be living in a big lie as well). The Big Lie is a work of speculative fiction that especially rings true in today’s times where the media is constantly questioned and we are always wondering if what we are being told is the truth.
The number one takeaway I got from this was that even though this story follows Jessika and talks about what life is like for her under the German Reich (especially with her sexuality) that this book was showing that it was never going to end with this girl just as much as it wasn’t going to end from Clementines efforts either. Revolutions are a process and it is rare for us to ever see the end of any kind of oppression in our lifetimes.
What I also loved about the choice of Jessika as the main character is that she was never particularly strong, but she was real and made many many mistakes and was still trying to find out who she was in a place where she was only ever breed to be married and have kids later in life. It also left me with a lot of mystery around Clementine as someone who does know what she stands for and believes in (the main mystery being what was her true past).
The Big Lie is an urgent and emotional take at what life would be like now under the nazi regime. For those who are curious about World War 2 and what could have been, this book is for you.
Thanks for reading! Let me know your thoughts down in the comments.
-Till next time!