The Big Lie

Reviewed by Melanie on November 7, 2017


We learn a lot about Hitler and the Nazi Party by reading history books, or watching a couple hours on the History Channel, but it isn’t often that we’re asked to think about what would have happened if Germany won the war, and the Greater German Reich was able to not only expand, but continue teaching its principles. For Jessika, and her friends and family, the party is everything.

Jessika is from an influential family. Her father is a high ranking officer, she’s in the Hitler Youth, and a world class ice skater. She’s preparing to head to Skate Camp where she’ll train to compete in the National Championships. By all qualifications, she’s a really good girl, and does what she’s told, most of the time.

Jessika’s best friend and first love, Clementine is the opposite. She’s a boundary pusher. She’s quit the Hitler Youth program, and is supposed to be going to a Music Camp. Clementine has been quietly planting seeds of doubt throughout her group, but things move a bit more quickly when she receives her sterilization order.

Outside of their community, the Greater German Reich is getting ready to welcome the first American to their soil since the Great War. A concert of all things, is to be held to welcome the American-German to the homeland. This concert is the pivotal moment that changes every one’s lives.

The characters of the book, mainly Jessika are intriguing and well developed. While Jessika seems a bit naive at first, I tried to put myself in her shoes, and realized that I probably wouldn’t be quick to push the boundaries if I could walk past people hung on lamp posts or publicly executed. She did her best to be a good student and daughter, but once the idea of revolution was in her mind, it was like an earworm and difficult to move away from.

There are only brief glimpses of Clementine throughout the book, but her tenacity made me like her even when it was obvious she was causing trouble for Jessika. While I feel like she wasn’t the best friend she could be for Jessika, she worked well as catalyst to push the book towards it’s climax and resolution.

Overall the book did something that a lot of books don’t. It made me think about what life would be like if in 2014 we had Nazi England. It made me think about what I would do in a no-win situation, and made me glad to live in a world where we don’t have to worry about the walls having ears like some other countries do. Overall, a solid 4.5 moose tracks, highly recommended to any one interested in alt-history.

The Big Lie Book Cover The Big Lie
Julie Mayhew
Young Adult, GLBT, Science Fiction, Dystopia, Historical, Historical Fiction, Alt History
Candlewick Press
November 14, 2017
Kindle eBook

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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