Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Book: Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead

Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead. Wendy Lamb Books; 2012. 192 pages.

Georges (named after Georges Seurat, a famous French Post-Impressionist painter) and his parents are forced to move out of their suburban Brooklyn home into a small apartment when his father loses his job. Georges mother works as a nurse and has picked up additional work shifts in order to support the family, something which Georges understands but has a difficult time comming to terms with as he doesn't get to see his mother as much. Things are also difficult for Georges because his once best friend has left him for the "cool" table at school - the same cool table at which the kids who bully Georges sit.

At this apartment buiding, Georges meets Safer, a boy his own age who has some very strange habits. Safer corrals Georges into joining him in spying on Mr. X, the mysterious neighbor who dressed in black and is always with a briefcase. Safer's schemes to keep an eye on Mr. X get more extreme, to the point of breaking into his apartment, something Georges isn't too sure is a good idea. All of Georges' interactions with Safer leave him questioning what it means to be someone's friend and what it means to lie.

While the book started out in a way that was engaging, the plot turned rather confusing about 2/3 of the way through. When Georges' mother becomes ill, it didn't really fit in with the story whatsoever and felt as if it didn't need to be there. The idea behind the plot is a good one as Georges is a boy who has to discover what it means to be friends with someone who is a little different, but overall there are parts that could be improved, like the big reveal about Mr. X, which felt as if it was a bit of a let-down. Much of the intent behind the plot will most likely go over most reader's heads, leaving them confused as to why things ended the way they did.

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