"Life is a million different dots making one gigantic picture.
And maybe the big picture is nice, maybe it's amazing,
but if you're standing with your face pressed up against a bunch of black dots,
it's really hard to tell."
-Rebecca Stead, Liar & Spy
Having previously read Rebecca Stead's Newbery Medal-winning novel When You Reach Me for one of my library science classes, when I stumbled across her latest novel, Liar & Spy, prominently displayed for the taking at our local library, I couldn't help checking it out.
The story centers around seventh grader Georges and his family's move from a house to an apartment after the loss of the father's job, as well as the absence of the mother as she seemingly works double-shifts at the hospital to support the family. As Georges struggles to adapt to a new way of life, plus deal with a bully at school, he meets the homeschoolers (Bohemian extreme unschoolers) upstairs, twelve-year-old Safer and his younger sister Candy, and immediately becomes embroiled in Safer's self-appointed spying gig to determine what the evil "Mr. X" has been up to.
Throughout the novel, Georges figures out what it means to be a true friend, and that life can be hard, but worth it. This novel was a very easy read, just like When You Reach Me, that moved quickly, and Stead's writing does a wonderful job of bringing the reader into the story, such that by the end of the novel, the reader's emotions are engaged effectively.
I would Liar & Spy, as well as When You Reach Me, for as young as middle-grade students, but older students and adults will find it just as captivating.