Rated Reads

Liar & Spy

by Rebecca Stead

Rated: None

I have found a new author to admire (and I do not say that lightly). Having read Rebecca Stead’s Newbery winner, When You Reach Me, which was really just wonderful on so many levels, I was eager to read her new book. I didn’t expect it to be another Newbery candidate, so I just enjoyed it on its own merits, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Georges (the s is silent) and his parents have to move out of their house into an apartment building since his dad was laid off. His mom is taking all the extra shifts she can as a nurse to make up for lost income, so Georges and his dad pretty much do the whole move and settle in to go about their lives together while she’s so often away. They haven’t moved far from their house, so the neighborhood and the school are all the same, so really, not much has changed. One thing that, unfortunately, doesn’t change is that Georges is bullied and doesn’t have many friends.

So when his dad sees there is another boy his age in their new building, he encourages Georges to get to know him. This comes to pass through the meetings of the spy club, and Georges finds himself swept up into the spying activities of Safer, one of three children in a happy family of “bohemians,” as his mom terms them.

The spying gets a little out of hand, though, and Georges isn’t sure how to handle it, all the while still being bullied at school and being angry about the unwelcome changes in his family life. The story takes Georges and readers through to an unexpected and poignant conclusion, which is nothing less than I’d expect from Stead. I don’t want to say anything to spoil the story or the directions it takes; suffice it to say that the writing is just as sweet and understanding of the junior-high age as it has been before.

A delightfully written book by a talented author.

Rated: None.

— Reviewed by Cathy Carmode Lim

Cathy Carmode Lim has been reviewing books for newspapers for more than 20 years, two of which she was a book page editor. She founded Rated Reads in January 2008.

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  • Liar & Spy
  • by Rebecca Stead
  • Rated: None
  • Genre: Young adult
  • Reviewer: