LIAR & SPY
by Rebecca Stead
Wendy Lamb Books, 2012
Middle Grade Contemporary
Reviewed from copy borrowed from library.
ABOUT THE BOOK
When seventh grader Georges (the S
is silent) moves into a Brooklyn apartment building, he meets Safer, a
twelve-year-old coffee-drinking loner and self-appointed spy. Georges
becomes Safer's first spy recruit. His assignment? Tracking the
mysterious Mr. X, who lives in the apartment upstairs. But as Safer
becomes more demanding, Georges starts to wonder: how far is too far to
go for your only friend?
I read Stead's When You Reach Me when it came out, just before it won the Newbery Medal. I liked it, but I didn't love it. So I figured going in to this one that I would probably like it but not love it. I was wrong. I loved it. I'm not sure if it was the characters, Georges and Safer their families or if it was the plot revolving around spying on one's neighbors and lying to one's family/friends, but I strongly suspect that I just loved the book as a whole. With a beautiful combination of character development and plot movement I found myself really interested in reading about Georges and his struggles with moving, bullies, and a new friend he doesn't 'get.' Stead also throws in a plot twist that I really did not see coming that really changed the way I saw the book and the story as a whole. It left me stunned and thoughtful. In my mind I went back and thought about the way Georges had been acting and how things turned out to be very different than I thought. It made me think about the way humans jump to conclusions so easily and so very often turn out to be wrong. I found this a beautifully written and surprisingly complex story despite what originally seemed like a fairly straight-forward plot. I really liked the writing. For me a well-written book is a book where the writing flows so smoothly that I pay little attention to it because I am so engrossed in the story. Liar & Spy is one of those books.