twitter, I summed up my thoughts on this book in one word:
Let's begin at the beginning though. I LOVED "When You Reach Me," Rebecca Stead's recent Newbery medal winning novel. I liken it to "The Time Traveler's Wife" for kids. So, not to give too much away there, but there's some time travel. And, there are a lot of references to the main character's favorite book, "A Wrinkle in Time." I'm also a big fan of books for kids that refer to other great books for kids, like a reading road map.
So, anyway, I loved "When You Reach Me," so my expectations were high and as I read "Liar and Spy," I thought perhaps they were too high. L and S follows Georges (named for Georges Seurat) as he navigates middle school bullies, an abrupt move, and family turmoil. He befriends a boy in his new apartment building, Safer, and reluctantly involves himself in spying. The story moves along. A little slowly. Until pretty close to the end. And then bam. Rebecca Stead proceeds to slap you in the face 3-4 times (at least). There was a smidge of foreshadowing. In middle grade novels, foreshadowing is usually SO obvious that you, as an adult reader, are saying, "Oh, I know where this is going...". And kids usually read along, taking in all the pieces and putting them together. Just the way it is. As someone who will skip to the end to figure something out if it's THAT kind of book, I will shamelessly say that I rather like being the omniscient adult when it comes to foreshadowing. But, noooo. Stead slips in foreshadowing so that you momentarily pause and think, huh, that's weird. And you continue with this niggling thought in the back of your brain, a seed that blossoms when you get to THAT part, the reveal so to speak.
Am I being very cryptic? I'm being very cryptic, aren't I? Well...you'll just have to read it then, won't you. And it's one of those books that you might have to read twice. Not to understand it, but to go back and examine it, very closely, for more clues.
You know the movie, The Sixth Sense? It's sort of like that, except for there are no little boys talking to dead people.