Liar & Spy Book Review

Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead

When Georges' family falls on hard times, they move from their nice home to a Brooklyn apartment. There he meets Safer, a twelve-year old coffee addicted spy and Georges is his newest recruit. Their current mission, a neighbor named Mr. X, who may or may not be a serial killer, causes Georges to wonder about his new friend and lengths he is willing to go to be true to himself.

To be perfectly honest, I wasn't a huge fan of Rebecca Stead's When You Reach Me as the minute she mentioned A Wrinkle in Time, I automatically guessed it was a time travel story and thus the entire book fell apart for me. That said, I give every story it's fair shake even if Liar & Spy did sound like a modern re-telling of Harriet the Spy.

For the first 120 pages or so, that is how it read too. A predictable middle grade spy novel about two kids who have some eccentricities to be sure, but in a way that didn't seem too outside the norm. And then, in two pages, the author revealed a whole new depth to her story that made me loudly exclaim, "Wow." To which, my boyfriend asked me what was going on and I had to summarize the entire book in order for him to understand the nuances of a book that just a minute before I had been hum drum about.

This is not a spy novel. This is the story of a boy in the middle of an existential crisis. It is about phobias and games, bullies, illness, job loss, and the little dots that make up the big picture that is us. Stead crafts a beautiful novel, whose only flaw may be that young readers might not make it to the end to discover that beautiful moment as there isn't a whole lot of action in the story. Perhaps one for my end of the year list: Book that adults like more than kids.