The good news is they still live in the same neighborhood, which means Georges didn't have to change schools and can visit all his familiar haunts. Plus he met Safer, a boy who lives in his building. Safer and his family are a bit odd, but Georges likes having the after-school company--that is, until his new friend begins to make too many demands.
Rebecca Stead's Liar & Spy is so full of wonderful, it's difficult to know where to begin. I think the thing that stands out most is Stead's ability to teach important lessons in such a way that you don't even realize you're learning. So many middle grade books bop kids over the head with their messages. Stead, on the other hand, tells a story from a boy's worldview, and we see the truth only when he does. The result is a novel that can be read for fun or for discussion with equal enjoyment.
Georges is going through so much upheaval that he's initially happy to have Safer take the lead as head of their Spy Club. As Georges learns the ropes of becoming an assistant spy, he's sometimes irritated with Safer and sometimes not quite sure he's doing the right thing. The crux of the novel is how Georges begins to see people and situations from a more mature perspective and how that in turn helps him come to terms with his family's situation and the nature of his friendships.
Liar & Spy is my first Rebecca Stead novel, and I am so impressed with her ability to create an utterly believable middle grade world. Although all the characters jump off the page, Georges in particular wins your heart. He's a great kid--smart and funny, yet insecure. Above all, though, he's kind and forgiving, two traits that we can all use more of.
Read Liar & Spy for fun, recommend it to your kids and teachers, pick it up for a middle reader book club. This novel is going on my best of 2012 list.
I listened to the unabridged audio edition (Listening Library; 4 hr, 30 min) read by Jesse Bernstein. Although I can say with confidence that Liar & Spy would be just as good in print, Bernstein brought the novel to life. His consistent characterizations (complete with an adolescent pitch) and appropriate level of emotion make the audiobook a winner. Pop this one into the player the next time your family is cooped up on a rainy Saturday or when you have an afternoon car trip. Everyone will be engrossed.
This review will be linked to Kid Konnection, hosted every Saturday by Julie at Booking Mama.
Published by Random House Children / Wendy Lamb Books 2012
ISBN-13: 9780385737432Source: Review (see review policy)
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