Thursday, August 16, 2012

Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead

In the summer of 2009 I was plowing through my state award nominees to ensure I’d read every title before school started. I picked up Rebecca Stead’s First Light, not having any idea what the book was about. The two storylines were so interesting, I knew they’d likely come together but wasn’t sure how. Mesmerized by the detail, the characters, their worlds, I fell in love with Stead’s writing.

A few months later I picked up her next book, When You Reach Me. Turning the pages I was drawn to Miranda and her world. Why was Sal angry with her? Would her mom win the game show? And who was leaving her those notes? I still remember thinking there were some odd things happening in the book and then I reached a page somewhere in the 160s and gasped. I vividly recall goose bumps rising up on my arms, the hairs standing at attention. I had to finish, breathlessly, and then immediately reread the book.

And then I began my eager wait for her next novel. A few weeks ago, the wait was over. 
Liar & Spy was finally out in the world. I had longed for an ARC, wished and prayed, but in the end, I’m grateful just to have read it. What a beautiful book.

This book follows the story of Georges. Named after the artist Georges Seurat, Georges has to deal with many irritations, including the mispronunciation of his name. (The “S” is silent) When we begin the book, Georges and his family are moving to an apartment. Finances are tough, his dad has lost his job and is starting a small business, and his mom is working double shifts at the hospital.

Life at school isn’t much easier. Georges isn’t fitting in with his old friends and some others are just downright mean. Luckily he meets a new kid, Safer, when he moves into the apartment building. He becomes part of Safer’s Spy Club and immediately is set to work.

There were many reasons I enjoyed this book. I completely identified with Georges and how he often lived in his head. I loved the relationship between he and his parents. Safer’s family was so different from George’s, I thought it was a great contrast. But mostly, I just fell in love with Stead’s writing all over again. The details are amazing, the story compelling, and the characters are memorable. Highly recommend this book, it will be my second read aloud to my fifth graders this year.