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Title: Liar & Spy
Author: Rebecca Stead (link)
Pub Date: August 2012
Goodreads Synopsis: When seventh grader Georges (the S is silent) moves into a Brooklyn apartment building, he meets Safer, a twelve-year-old coffee-drinking loner and self-appointed spy. Georges becomes Safer's first spy recruit. His assignment? Tracking the mysterious Mr. X, who lives in the apartment upstairs. But as Safer becomes more demanding, Georges starts to wonder: how far is too far to go for your only friend?
First Line: There's this totally false map of the human tongue.
After reading When You Reach Me last year, I couldn't wait to dive into Rebecca Stead's next novel. Set in contemporary New York, it follows Georges, a 12-year-old who's moving into an apartment building after his dad loses his job and the family is forced to sell their home. Georges' adjusts to a new life where his mother picks up so many shifts at work, she's never home, and a kid his age challenges his wits (and sometimes his moral compass) after initiating him into a spy club. The story is an easy, pleasurable read with many threads that tie up nicely in the end, after a stunning twist that readers of Stead know will be pulled off wonderfully.
Why You'll Love Georges: Though he's in the middle of much change, readers will appreciate Georges as a steady narrator. The manner in which he calmly processes and accepts the storm around him is brave and as un-whiny as you can get, with just the right touch of humor.
Liar & Spy Themes: friendship, parental unemployment, bullying, fear, moving, life changes, peer pressure.
Want to find more marvelous middle grade books? Check out my past picks, as well as these MMGM bloggers who have more recommendations every Monday!