Monday, February 25, 2013

MMGM: Liar & Spy, by Rebecca Stead

If you've read When You Reach Me (and if you haven't, what are you waiting for? Don't let its Newberry Medal turn you off!), you know that Rebecca Stead doesn't write ordinary books. I would compare her brain to Meg Rosoff's, or Ellen Raskin's: twisty, tricky, off-the-wall. You need to read Stead's books twice.

Liar & Spy is firmly set in a contemporary urban world: school and apartment building. Kid with mostly absent but loving parents. Quirky apartment inhabitants. Stressful school situation. New friend who's kind of weird, but in a good way. It's familiar middle-grade territory, but Stead does very different things with it.

I loved the character of Georges (named after the painter Seurat. The 's' is silent, as he tires of explaining to people.). He's not particularly smart or funny or compassionate or anything--he's a pretty ordinary kid. But he's not, of course. I love his new friends, Safer and Candy and their unusual family. I love the way Stead uses a taste test in science class to build all kinds of plot and theme threads.

There's nothing fantastical about the plot twist in Liar & Spy, but it's every bit as head spinning and heart breaking as the one in When You Reach Me. I cried. I laughed. It was great.

Yes, there's a bullying sub-plot, and I loved the way she handled it. (I cried again. Happy tears.)

Liar & Spy is fun and readable on a first read and has lots of layers to reward a reread. Apple strudel, I think, with a crispy, flaky crust and tangy sweet apple filling.

Don't forget to go to Shannon Messenger's blog to find out what all the other Middle Grade Monday bloggers are excited about this week.


  1. Every word of your review is spot on. My daughter and I adored this book.

  2. Oh yes, I thoroughly enjoyed this story. All of Stead's books are worth reading and make you think, including her first book, FIRST LIGHT.

    With this one, I'm still trying to figure out whose laundry it was...

  3. I want to read this one! I read First Light and enjoyed it. I have When You Reach Me on my shelf- but haven't gotten to it yet. SOON! Thanks for sharing. :)

  4. This one is on my list and I'm getting pretty close to reading it. I can't wait. :)

  5. I have been looking forward to this one ever since I heard Stead had another book coming out. And to make sure I read it, I added it to the book list for my creative writing class. :-)

  6. You are so right that you can read Stead's books more than once, and get something out of it each time!

  7. I finished Liar and Spy about a week ago -- incredibly charming, sweet story. So glad you're spreading the word :)