Liar and Spy

Liar and Spy - This was such a treat, and I'm grateful to Random House for sending me a review copy. I liked this one better than When You Reach Me. I found it easier to follow and more entertaining. The message in this story is subtle, and it's just as valuable for grown-ups as it is for youngsters. What Georges learns is that sometimes when people lie and misrepresent themselves, they do it out of fear and shame, not because they are bad people. And sometimes we lie to ourselves for the same reasons. The truth is just too scary or painful. If we let the truth come out, we just might find that people want to help us, not reject us. Even if you care nothing at all about the message, the story is just plain fun to read. The plot is fairly basic. Rebecca Stead makes it fun, and funny, by including all the strange character traits and habits that make people memorable. Georges has moved from a house he loves into an apartment he's not too thrilled about. He meets a new friend there named Safer, who ropes him into some activities he doesn't feel good about. Georges has to learn to stand up to Safer and say no. Meanwhile, he also learns to make a stand against the kids who pick on him at school.I really enjoyed Georges as a narrator and character. He's one of those nerdy kids that grown-ups always like and peers always tease. He's smart, but he has an earnest cluelessness that sometimes made me laugh out loud. Recommended for middle-grade readers of both sexes, and grown-ups, too.