Rebecca Stead – Liar & Spy

“Georges (the s is silent) has a lot going on. He’s having trouble with some boys at school, his dad lost his job and so his mum has started working all the time – and they had to sell their house and move into an apartment. But moving into the apartment block does bring one good thing – Safer, an unusual boy who lives on the top floor. He runs a spy club, and is determined to teach Georges everything he knows. Their current case is to spy on the mysterious Mr X in the apartment above Georges.But as Georges and Safer go deeper into their Mr X plan, the line between games, lies, and reality begin to blur.”

Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead is a lovely, poignant tale about Georges, who’s had to move out of his old home and into a new one, where his bedroom is unfamiliar and the building even more so. But his attention is grabbed by a sign downstairs inviting him to a Spy Club meeting – ‘Today’! His dad replies to the invitation – and with that, Georges is launched into a whole new world. Suddenly he’s making lots of new friends –friends who are spies, friends who love sweets, friends who are allowed to name themselves, and friends who are trying to revolutionise the English language. The first of these friends is Safer, a boy in the building who has well-developed investigative skills that he’s using to spy on another resident in the building – the black-clad Mr. X. He draws Georges into his clandestine world, using him as his detective partner to solve the riddle of who the mysterious man is. When not honing his new-found skills, Georges spends time eating at Yum Li’s with his dad. His mother remains absent from the picture, leaving only short, sweet messages written with Scrabble letters for him to wake up to. But as Georges is drawn into Safer’s often unsafe world, things that were once true are revealed to be lies, and some truths that Georges has been trying to ignore come to the surface…

Liar & Spy is a wonderful work of fiction. Rebecca Stead does a marvellous job of not only capturing a age-perfect narrative, filled with quirky characters and incidents – my favourite part was the taste-test (referred to the kids as the ‘love or death’ test) – but from a male point of view. I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t love this book.

Many thanks to Andersen Press for the review copy.

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