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.
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.)