Sunday, October 28, 2012

Liar and Spy, Rebecca Stead

This is the second book I've read by Rebecca Stead. The first one was called When You Reach Me, and I read it a few years back for a college class. My professor for that class was Dr. Jennifer Wilson, the best teacher I've ever had. When You Reach Me had won the Newbery Medal that year, and we had to read it and then complete a project either questioning or validating the legitimacy of medals and awards like the Newbery. Dr. Wilson unfortunately died in 2011, and that's part of the reason I really wanted to read this book - it reminded me of her.

Georges, the main character in Liar and Spy is one of those stereotypical weird kids. He's weird right down to his name...the 's' on 'Georges' is silent, so it's really just George. His parents are big fans of a painter named Georges Suerrat, his namesake. Anyway, Georges's dad loses his job, and the family finds themselves relocating from their luxurious, custom home to an apartment complex in Brooklyn. There, Georges meets a boy named Safer, who just might be weirder than Georges himself. Safer has two siblings, a sister named Candy and a brother named Pigeon. Rumor is that the children were allowed to name themselves.

Aside from struggling with the big move, trying to fit in at school, and befriending the odd birds of Safer's apartment, Georges's mom is almost completely out of the picture. The story is that she's working double shifts at the local hospital to make up for the dad's lost job. Georges has no real communication with her aside from notes that they leave each other written out in Scrabble letters each morning/night - she's already at work when he goes to school and home in bed when he gets home.

There's a strange air of mystery throughout the whole novel, like Georges is hiding something. For a while I thought that maybe the dad was having an affair, or maybe the mom had actually moved away. The confusion is finally cleared up in the end of the novel, and it's a big surprise.

This novel was very similar to When You Reach Me in that the chapters seemed disjointed, and sometimes the link between all of the different happenings in the novel seemed vague. However, it's all wrapped up nice and neatly in the end.