Liar & Spy

Rebecca Stead

Liar & Spy
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Liar & Spy

Rebecca Stead

WINNER GUARDIAN CHILDREN’S FICTION PRIZE 2013

When Georges moves into a Brooklyn apartment building, he meets Safer, a twelve-year-old coffee-drinking loner and self-appointed spy.

Georges becomes Safer’s first spy club recruit. His assignment? Tracking the mysterious Mr X, who lives in the apartment upstairs. But as Safer becomes more demanding, Georges starts to wonder: how far is too far to go for your only friend?

Rebecca Stead’s characters are delightfully engaging, and she has woven intricate ideas into a beautiful story. Liar and Spy is an inspired, often-funny novel for middle grade kids about friendship, fears, bullying and how to deal with your worries. It will keep readers guessing until the very end.

Review

Smart, sensitive Georges is having a rough time of it – he’s bullied at school, hardly sees his mum and, when his dad is made redundant, the family have to leave their beloved home and move into an apartment. But it’s there that Georges meets Safer, an eccentric boy whose friendship is set to change his life.

With Safer in charge, the boys begin to spy on the mysterious Mr X, a man who lives in the building. But it’s what we discover about Georges and Safer that is far more surprising.

Liar and Spy has all the mystery of Stead’s last book, the brilliant When You Reach Me, even though the themes of this story are ultimately more grounded. This is an author with a brilliant grasp of childhood in those years after the initial innocence and magic starts to fade but before it has disappeared completely.

The contrast between likeable Georges - struggling through middle school - and unconventional, home-schooled Safer makes this a memorable friendship. Stead somehow ensures that the underdogs in her stories win in a way that is authentic and hopeful without being saccharine.

A clever and reassuring book, highly recommended for age 9 and up.


Emily Gale is a Children’s & YA Specialist at Readings Carlton, and a Children’s & YA writer the rest of the time. Her other title is ‘Mum’, or more accurately ‘Muuuuuuuuum!’

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