My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Liar And Spy is a subtle, smart book and one which I think has that oddly exhilarating feeling of being something much bigger than it is and it is something which feels classic, really, as though it’s destined to be around for a very long time and referred back to with the wise nod and comment of, “And this is how it’s done well in middle grade literature.”
So, what is this wise and funny book? It is the story of Georges (the S is silent) who’s been named after his parents favourite painter Georges Seurat. Things aren’t going amazingly for Georges; his father’s been laid off, his mother is pulling double shifts at the hospital, and they’ve had to move to a new home in a different neighbourhood. In his new home, Georges meets Safer and Candy, two local kids, and it’s through his developing friendship with them – Safer in particular – that sees Georges join ‘Spy Club’ and determine how he’s going to face his future.
It is that, then this book, but there’s a lot more besides that and it’s all done with an exquisite and elegant simplicity which makes me gape with wonder on a reread. Liar and Spy is basically a lesson in voice and narrative and it’s one that needs to be soaked in and reread if possible, with an eye on all the subtle skill of Stead. And she is subtle but god, she’s skilled. This book is clever and big and it maches you ache. What more do you want? It is life wrapped up in bookish clothing.