I don’t know what to make of Rebecca Stead’s latest book, Liar & Spy and maybe that’s good. It makes you think. Her second book, When You Reach Me brought her to the limelight in that it won the Newbery Award.
Georges, named after Georges Seurat, unfortunately has an ‘S’ at the end of his first name which causes him no end of trouble in school. Forced to move out of his Brooklyn house and into an apartment a dozen blocks away when his father gets laid off, he meets Safer, also twelve, who lives in the building. Safer spends his days spying on the apartment’s Mr. X who comes and goes carrying suitcases. Safer senses something sinister and when Georges’ father spies a note on a door next to the trash room announcing a meeting of the Spy Club, Georges goes and gets recruited, joining Safer’s ten year old sister, Candy. Together, they monitor the apartment’s comings and goings through the webcam and hypothesize about Mr. X’s activities.
Juxtaposed against his apartment life is Georges’ life in school, virtually friendless, subjected to bullying by Dallas Llewellyn and Carter Dixon and Georges’ former best friend, Jason.
As I said, Liar & Spy defies categorization, which is good. It does make you think. Think about bullying, think about friendship, think about standing up for yourself. The characters: Safer and Candy, the parents, teachers and bullies, are in many ways unique, some lovable, some not. The story is unique. Stead throws in some surprises at the end that I didn’t see coming at all.
All in all, an enjoyable, satisfying read. So much so that I in the middle of her first book, First Light. It must be the sleeper of the year since, half way through, it is entrancing. Rebecca Stead is definitely an author to read.