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Evie Spooner is our plucky, adolescent narrator as we navigate the choppy waters in What I Saw and How I Lied, and as such, we get to know her very well. When the novel opens up, Evie is a pretty nondescript teenage girl; she's still coming into her own in the world. But we get to see her grow up and develop her own personality—and ideas—through the events in the book, and it's quite a journey.
Because she was raised by just her mother (until Joe came along, at least), Evie has a particularly strong bond with her mom. She and her mom have gone through some hard times together, and they always stick together. Evie is incredibly loyal to her mom and knows that she'll help her through anything—this is tested and proven during the trial, when Evie decides of her own volition to lie on her mom's behalf after Peter's death.
Evie also grows up constantly in her mother's shadow. She considers herself plain and ugly because she can never live up to her mom's beauty. Check out this description:
My mother was beautiful. I always said that first, because it was the first thing everybody noticed.
I took after my father. (3.4-5)
Her mom is a hottie, and even boys her age would rather go after Bev than Evie. You don't have to take our word for it, either—just ask Peter.
But once Evie realizes that her mom is flawed and has made mistakes too (like when she has an affair with Peter), she decides that she doesn't want to be exactly like her mother anymore. Beauty is only skin deep, after all, and Evie wants to be her own—good—person.
Evie is initially portrayed as ridiculously naïve—even for her age. At the beginning of the book, she references how her friends make fun of her for being so prudish:
"Let's just go home."
"Come on, Sister Mary Evelyn," Margie said. She called me that when she thought I was being a goody-goody. (2.48-49)
And Evie continues to approach the world with wide-eyed innocence. She sees the best in her parents and sees them as an example of what love should be, plus she doesn't even realize that she dresses like a kid until Mrs. Grayson brings it up:
She cocked her head and looked at me. "Do you know that Bev dresses you like a kid? I think I saw you in a pinafore the other day. Really! How old are you?" (11.30)
Nothing says childhood quite like a pinafore, Shmoopsters. But during her time in Palm Beach, Evie starts to grow up—and a lot of that has to do with her infatuation with a certain handsome young man.
When Evie meets movie star handsome Peter Coleridge, she's immediately a goner. It's not just his flawless good looks that lure her in (though they certain help); it's the fact that he romances her and makes her feel like she's beautiful. Pretty soon, Evie's whole world revolves around seeing Peter, impressing Peter, and getting Peter to fall in love with her too. She says:
What was stopping me from finding out what lay behind Peter's kiss? He had kissed me that one time, a real kiss, right on the mouth. Sure, he'd regretted it, but he'd done it. He'd called me irresistible, so why was he resisting? (16.64)
Evie's love for Peter is all-encompassing; it's the first time she's ever felt this way about anyone and she's overwhelmed by the strength of her own emotions. When Evie is in love with Peter, she sees herself in a different light. As a wise woman named Britney once said, Evie is "not a girl, not yet a woman"—but she's definitely on her way.
For Evie, growing up doesn't just mean that she gets more in touch with her sexual desires—it also means that she starts thinking critically about the world she's a part of and the people around her. Evie starts to see that maybe Joe isn't such a perfect guy after all; he did steal money over in Europe, and then refused to give Peter his fair cut. And she also sees that there's a lot of injustice happening around her—and she doesn't like it one bit. When she sees segregated water fountains, she can't help but be bothered:
Peter was watching, too. "You don't like seeing it, do you, pussycat?"
"I never thought about it before. But after you fight a war, you figure the world is going to get a little more fair, don't you?" (16.22-23)
As Evie starts to think more critically, she sees that there are a lot of things in the world that need to be fixed, and she starts considering how she can be a part of the solution. So when she finally gets home after her haywire vacation, she's not longer interested in hanging out with her racist friend Margie—instead she asks Ruthie to hang out—and then she steals Joe's stolen money and hands it over to Mrs. Grayson, in hopes that she can find some way to use it to help Jewish people. As the story ends, Evie isn't just running her own show—she's running it for good.