Author: Rebecca Stead (Newberry Award winner for: When You Reach Me)
Age Range: 10-14
Plot: Georges is dealing with some major changes. His dad has lost his job, his mom is now pulling overnight and double shifts at the hospital, and the family has had to sell their house and move into an apartment across town. On top of all that, Georges is definitely not one of the cool kids in school. But Jason, his friend from childhood, has managed to become one. Feeling abandoned at school and by his parents at home, Georges finds a new friend in his new apartment building: Safer and his Spy Club. But things in the Spy Club aren’t exactly innocent, Safer has a very different way of looking at the world, and Georges has to figure out if his current path through 7th grade is good enough or worth changing.
Review: Written in a voice that is very accessible, Liar & Spy is a quick read that manages to tug at your heartstrings as you feel for Georges. Everything in his world is changing, and even though he has had a good relationship with his parents in the past, you can tell that he doesn’t want to burden them with his problems while they obviously have their own to worry about- something a lot of kids go through. Georges is a truly believable character. He’s a smart young man with a strong understanding of what is right and what makes him feel uncomfortable, and in the end he makes some pretty amazing decisions on his own. With subplots that investigate alternative ways of learning, and parent-child relationships, I really enjoyed this multi-dimensional book.
Themes: Changes at home, building new relationships, friendships, bullying
Georges: Named after his parents’ favorite artist Seurat, he is a very smart kid who doesn’t very much enjoy school. The kids there are constantly making fun of his name, calling him Gorgeous and Geek and everything G-related in-between.
Safer: The new neighbor and brains behind the Spy Club in Georges’s new apartment building. He is home schooled, and very introverted.
Candy: Extroverted younger sister of Safer. She is 10, also home schooled, and very outspoken. Very perceptive of her surroundings.
Stead, R. (2012). Liar and Spy. New York: Random House, Inc.