The Big Lie
The Big Lie
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Annotation: Nazi England, 2014. Jessika Keller is a good girl a champion ice skater, model student of the Bund Deutscher Madel, 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?
Catalog Number: #148469
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Copyright Date: 2017
Edition Date: 2017
Pages: 321 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 0-7636-9125-9
ISBN 13: 978-0-7636-9125-7
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2017958785
Dimensions: 22 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
ALA Booklist
Mayhew has imagined a 2013 Nazi England in an alternative history where Hitler conquered England. It's a doozy of a concept, well-realized through plausible details about everyday life seen through the first-person narrative of Jessika Keller, brilliant figure skater and obedient daughter of a high-level Nazi official. In her last year of school, Jess realizes she has more in common than she thought with her rebellious best friend and neighbor Clementine Hart, who questions authority and breaks rules. Jess is also recognizing her strong feelings for Clem, in a society where homosexuality is forbidden. An outstanding feature is Mayhew's refusal to offer easy answers and pigeonhole characters; she respects the reader's ability to handle ambiguity. 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. A bibliography of further reading includes Anne Frank but goes far beyond the diary to include other primary source documents as well as academic and historical works.
Kirkus Reviews
Jessika is an upstanding schoolgirl in the English countryside of the Greater German Reich.It's been almost 75 years since Germany invaded—that is, since Operation Seelöwe liberated England from the filthy refugees on Britain's shores. Jess focuses on ice-skating, youth group, and enjoying the next few years before she settles down with a husband. It's awkward that she wants to kiss her best friend, Clementine, but she can fix that, somehow. But why does Clementine make everything difficult, saying disruptive things about freedom and showing off her illegal CD player? Still, it must be a mistake when Clementine has a scheduled sterilization; isn't that operation just for "proper idiot girls…deaf ones too, the deformed ones"? Jess chooses naiveté, revealing her world through the negative space of what she doesn't say. Through a jumping timeline, Jess details the events building up to a concert and its tragic aftermath: brutal medical treatment for the "blip" in her affections, black triangle badges, a re-education camp. ("I was here to work, and that work would set me free.") The setting, with its brainwashing, personality cults, and information seclusion from the rest of the world, evokes contemporary North Korea. 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. (Alternate history. 15-adult)
Publishers Weekly
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.)

School Library Journal Starred Review
Gr 10 UpImagine a world in which the iron fist of the Third Reich clamped over England and never let go. Jess enjoys her strict routineclasses, ice-skating, classes again, and home to her government-favored father. Only when her neighbor and friend Clementine begins to show uncomfortable signs of sedition does Jess begin to question things. Why does their house get raided in the middle of the night? Why is it acceptable for some people to have better goods and services if they are all supposed to be equal? In this alt-history novel, Mayhew explores the very unnerving scenario of a world in which the Nazi regime is still in power and thrivingand why. Aside from normal teenage issues, Mayhew grapples with how homosexuality is presented and dealt with in this fictionalbut frighteningly factualstory. When Clementine gives a hard sacrifice to attain freedom, Jess's rose-colored glasses finally break. How can she reconcile her entire upbringing with what she saw and the aftermath? Terrifying and eerily timely, this is a difficult reademotionallyfor mature readers. VERDICT An excellent choice for most YA shelves.Amanda C. Buschmann, Carroll Elementary School, Houston
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
Starred Review for Publishers Weekly
School Library Journal Starred Review (Sun Oct 01 00:00:00 CDT 2017)
ALA Booklist (Sun Oct 01 00:00:00 CDT 2017)
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Kirkus Reviews
Wilson's High School Catalog
Reading Level: 7.0
Interest Level: 9-12

Discussion Guide: Big Lie Discussion Guide

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.


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