Sunday, September 2, 2012

Liar and Spy by Rebecca Stead

Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead isn't quite what I was expecting from the Newbery Medal-winning author of When You Reach Me, but it is an engaging read, nonetheless.

Seventh grade is not turning out to be the best year for Georges. He's dealing with bullies at school, plus his dad lost his job and they have to move out of their house and into an apartment a few blocks away. His mom is a nurse and is always at the hospital. And he has no friends. That changes when he meets Safer, an eccentric loner kid who drinks coffee out of a hip flask and runs an elite spying operation out of his bedroom. Safer is determined to discover what nefarious secrets Mr. X, a fourth-floor resident, is hiding, and he recruits Georges to help with the mission. Of course, Safer is hiding some secrets himself -- as are a few other people in the story.

The main thing that strikes me about this book is that it feels so true. Georges' feelings, his interactions with parents, teachers, and friends, his reactions to certain revelations at the end of the story -- all of them just seem right and possible. This book doesn't have the sci-fi oomph of When You Reach Me, but it has all of the good qualities that I'm coming to expect from Rebecca Stead's writing. Fans of the middle-grade chapter book, don't miss this one!

(Reviewed from a copy borrowed through my library system.)

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