Stead, Rebecca. Liar & Spy. 192 p. 2012. Random House Children's Books. Hardcover $15.99. ISBN 9780385737432.
My verdict? I loved it. This slim volume, clocking in at under 200 pages, is a quick read that's jam-packed with thought-provoking themes and memorable, multilayered characters. It has the feel of an indie movie-- quirky and brilliant, and will undoubtedly appeal to fans of The Westing Game, by Ellen Raskin.
The main character, Georges, is someone the reader really roots for. He's matter-of-factly morose at times, in the most endearing way. The themes of bullying, friendship, and fitting in versus standing out provide much fodder for discussion and insight, making this title a good choice for a middle school book group. Stead also weaves in unexpectedly delightful motifs like spelling and silent letters, choosing one's own name, and painter Georges Seurat's pointilism as a metaphor for life-- whether you see the big picture or examine all of the little dots individually.
As she did in When You Reach Me, Stead weaves a tight storyline with subtle clues and red herrings that keep the reader guessing and wondering-- and then brings it all together with a twist at the end. I love a good unreliable narrator, and this book has a great one.
|A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grand-Jatte,|
by Georges Seurat, 1884-86
Brilliantly plotted, tightly written, and deeply satisfying.