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Liar & Spy

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  13,050 ratings  ·  1,772 reviews
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 fa ...more
Hardcover, 180 pages
Published August 7th 2012 by Wendy Lamb Books (first published January 1st 2012)
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Wonder by R.J. PalacioThe One and Only Ivan by Katherine ApplegateThe Fault in Our Stars by John GreenLiar & Spy by Rebecca SteadThe Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine
Newbery 2013
4th out of 116 books — 1,132 voters
Wonder by R.J. PalacioThe One and Only Ivan by Katherine ApplegateThe False Prince by Jennifer A. NielsenHigh in School by Salman AdityaThe Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy
Middle Grade Novels of 2012
11th out of 346 books — 611 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
This was such a treat, and I'm grateful to Random House for sending me a review copy. I liked this one better than When You Reach Me. I found it easier to follow and more entertaining.

The message in this story is subtle, and it's just as valuable for grown-ups as it is for youngsters. What Georges learns is that sometimes when people lie and misrepresent themselves, they do it out of fear and shame, not because they are bad people. And sometimes we lie to ourselves for the same reasons. The tru
Lisa Vegan
Sep 22, 2012 Lisa Vegan rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: both sexes ages 9-13 & all the way up, readers who enjoy quirky characters & big issues
Oh, how I’d have loved this one at ages 9 and 10, and if my life had been slightly different at 11, 12, and 13 too, and even then I still would have loved it, as I do now. I didn’t like it as much as When You Reach Me, but since that made both my favorites and favorite-time-travel-books shelves, that isn’t surprising.

4 ½ stars

I almost gave it only 4 stars. I found one thing at the end great, though not surprising, but one other thing I found anti-climactic and, for me, almost boring, definitely
Paul  Hankins
No spoilers here, but fans of WHEN YOU REACH ME will appreciate the references Stead makes within the story that can lead to conversations outside of the text to include art, popular culture, and the joy of the time-honored classic Scrabble. Extensive conversations about taste buds invite a cross-content area reading and research opportunity.

With WHEN YOU REACH ME, Rebecca Stead is "stead"-ily becoming the M. Night Syamalan of middle grade literature. Everyone will want to know how a science exp
Why wasn't this author around when I was a kid? Goodness some people get all the luck. Review later.
Rachel Hartman
I have many librarian friends who raved endlessly about When You Reach Me, and then found Liar and Spy kind of a let-down afterwards. It was with this in mind that I decided I should read Liar and Spy first, to give it a chance NOT to disappoint me.

Boy, was I ever NOT disappointed.

In fact, I love this book with all my (admittedly shrivelled) heart. If When You Reach Me really is that much better... well, maybe I shouldn't read it. Maybe it would make me give up writing in despair.

A little caveat
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rebecca Stead's books are like an onion--as the layers are peeled away and the characters reveal their secrets, the reader is left with a shiny nugget of essential truth. In this case, the truth is that pretending only keeps sadness at bay for so long. Seventh grader Georges is pretending that it's okay that his dad got laid off and his family had to sell their house and move to an apartment in Brooklyn. He's pretending that the school bullies that make fun of his name aren't really hurting his ...more
Destinee Sutton
The theme I took away from this book is the difference between seeing the little dots and seeing the big picture. It was very cleverly explored in lots of ways: Georges Seurat's painting, how to deal with bullies, differences in the perspectives of Georges and Safer, an almost out of nowhere plot twist, and finally the dots on the hands (which is only a cryptic spoiler).

Rebecca Stead again writes with heart, curiosity, and intelligence. For me, this book lacked the wow factor of When You Reach
Some authors can write a career’s worth of books and never quite nail the intangible element of mood. Not so with Newbery-winning author Rebecca Stead. Her new novel, the much-anticipated Liar & Spy is simmering with an “Is everything as it seems?” atmosphere. It’s sophisticated yet grounded, mysterious, and includes a surprise ending that will cause readers to rethink the whole operation.

Georges is in the midst of upheaval at school and at home. His friend has abandoned him for the popular
I LOVED this book! This is one of those rare books in which the ending is elevated beyond simply satisfying the plot. It brings the reader to an entirely new level of insight with Georges, the main character.

I appreciated the depth of development in Georges' character: his affinity for Georges Seurat's work (the 19th-century French artist for whom he is named)--especially pointillisme, his determination to look beyond the unpleasant treatment he receives at school at the hands of bullies, his lo
Monica Edinger
From my forthcoming starred Horn Book review as quoted here:

“Stead’s spare and elegant prose, compassionate insight into the lives of young people, wry sense of humor, deft plotting, and ability to present complex ideas in an accessible and intriguing way make this much more than a mystery with a twist.”
Alyson (Kid Lit Frenzy)
Wow! I will need to take a break before picking up another book. This is one of those books that leaves an emotional imprint on you that you just want to feel for awhile and not have other things crowd in or change the mood.
Steph Su
Rebecca Stead, whose previous book, When You Reach Me, I loved (and, apparently, so did a lot of other people, as it won the Newbery), is back with another middle grade novel, LIAR & SPY. Different in feel and content from When You Reach Me, it nevertheless pays homage to the intelligence and subtleties possible for middle grade literature.

Georges and other characters of LIAR & SPY are fairly average in terms of memorability, but wicked smart in terms of intelligence for characters their
Rebecca Stead is the M. Night Shyamalan of children's literature, and I mean that in a good Sixth Sense way, not a lame The Happening one. It's funny, but when I try to compare her other authors I find myself tongue-tied. Who else spends as much time on setting up and knocking down expectations in such a surefire manner? Now Ms. Stead has created the most dreaded of all books: The one you write after you've won a major award. Which is to say, she won a Newbery Medal for When You Reach Me and now ...more
After reading When You Reach Me, this was underwhelming. While the writing was interesting, I felt like it was trying to hard to be more like WYRM--using those conventions without a true commitment. Every character seemed on the verge of being interesting, but none were given enough to make them really stand out. I guess the reader was supposed to be living under the same pretense that Georges was about his mother, but it's hard to do that when there is no real relationship between the two. Scra ...more
This is a fun YA mystery. It's the story of 12-year-old Georges (the S is silent), who is dealing with a lot of stuff: His dad lost his job, his mom is always working, his best friend has abandoned him for the cool kids at school (who have been tormenting Georges) and now his family has to move into a smaller apartment.

Luckily Georges makes a new friend in a boy named Safer and they form a spy club to keep tabs on suspicious people in the building. Hijinks and school drama ensue, but Georges is
I am not as over the moon about this one as my friends all seem to be, in fact, I didn't like it very much at all. It took me fully 3/4 of the book to become even modestly engaged with the characters. I get the messages, I liked the writing, but it struck me as, well, as boring as The Westing Game. I twigged to a major plot point early enough that the reveal was anticlimactic. I though Safer's goofy family was a little too, too. I was interested at how enabling they were, and I think that struck ...more
I don't think I can find enough phrases for this book, which is short, profound, funny, witty, true, kind of scary, and has terrifyingly real children in it.
It takes place in Brooklyn. It has terrific parents in it. It has layers of puzzle and mystery. It's a great read.
"You're a very important part of this case, you know."
" I am? "
" You are."
"Because you live in the apartment right below him."
"Below who?"
"Below Mr.X."

Without sounded too melodramatic, this book has restored my faith in middle grade fiction to a certain extent.

I've been getting rather sick of pretentious pre-teen stories but thankfully this book is incredibly modest. The simple story and realistically quirky children were a welcome break from dead serious protagonists and Pippi Longstocki
Find this review @ Scott Reads It
Liar & Spy really surprised me in every single way. First of all, I usually don't read middle-school books at all because they don't interest me like YA novels do. Second, I don't usually read realistic fiction because in my opinion reality is too ordinary and boring to read about. I went against my reader instinct when I picked up Liar & Spy but I'm happy I did.

I really would like to thank Random House for providing me with an advanced reader copy, in ex
In Middle Grade, books about young boys having a hard time at home and/or at school are a dime a dozen and as such it is imperative that new books with this particular storyline offer something unique to the reader.

Well, LOOK NO FURTHER, for Liar & Spy is one such book.

Georges (with a silent s, his parent’s wanted to pay homage to their favourite painter Georges Seurat) is having a hard time. At home, his father was lay-off his job as an architect and the family had to move to a new, smaller
I was jotting down notes on this, when I should have been doing something else, and all I came up with was: Deft--Subtle--I like Candy.
All true! But so much more!

I enjoyed this just as much as When You Reach Me, which says a lot. And–just as with WYRM–I wanted to go back and re-read it as soon as I had finished. It's this really great story that keeps you turning the pages, and then there's even more that quietly lingers and keeps you right there with the characters.

I was recently discussing W
Danielle Larca
I recently read a blog post that made a case for high stakes in literature. Books where the stakes are high, either physically or emotionally, are the books that grab you. The books you can't forget. The books you rush to the end of but then are sorry to put down. (read full post here:

Liar & Spy was not that book.

Maybe Rebecca Stead and I just don't understand each other. I didn't fall all over myself like most of the children's lit population when W
When You Reach Me is one of my favorite books of all time, so I 1. was super excited to read this, and 2. had really high expectations.

This was a very good book, but the combination of my high expectations and love for Stead's previous book made me rate this at a "just okay". Rebecca Stead is really good at some things, and this book is no exception. Those things are:

1. Creating realistic and fascinating child characters who are real, complete people.
2. Well-done, realistic family dynamics.
Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead is a novel about Georges, who must deal with his father losing his job, moving into an apartment, his mother working double shifts, new friends, joining a spy club, fears, and bullying.

Stead crafts a novel about friendship, loyalty, bravery and facing ones fears, populating it with quirky, fleshed out characters. (I was not a huge fan of Georges' father, but he was pretty stressed out). The dialog and situations seem to create a good reflection of the current midd
Barb Middleton
What a master of plot twists! Stead can take seemingly unrelated events and weave them into a surprising, unpredictable story with kooky and engaging characters. Seventh grader Georges has just moved, his dad has lost his job, and his best friend has decided to hang with the cool kids. Georges deals with it in his own way and starts to make new friends at school and in his new home at an apartment building in New York. His dad is an architect who writes in perfectly even block letters which they ...more
Mrs. S
I am certainly not going to be the first person (or the last) to compare Rebecca Stead with E.L. Konigsburg. (Hopefully, Rebecca Stead is as big a fan of Ms. Konigsburg as I am.) My reasons for the comparison are simple: both authors have a gift for reaching back to roughly middle school age, and throwing the whole experience down on the page. It's hard to capture: there's still a bit of childhood's magical thinking, with a growing awareness of the cruddy parts of the world. The really tricky pa ...more
Nana S.
Currently I am reading a book called Liar and Spy by Rebecca Stead. The book is about a seventh grader named Georges (the s is silent) who has a lot of problems. He's having trouble with some boys at school, his dad lost his job and so his mom has started working all the time, and they had to sell their house and move into an apartment. But moving into a new apartment does bring one good thing. An unusual boy who lives on the top floor named Safer. He runs a spy club, and is eager to teach Georg ...more
Seurat's Sunday Afternoon on the Island of Grand Jatte is a central image in Georges life. A copy of that painting hangs over the couch in the new apartment--its presence there makes Georges feel at home a little bit. He keenly misses his old life when both parents were working and he saw his mother every day--now her extended hours as a nurse seem to keep her away. He recognizes that his father is trying to stay positive and supportive even as he struggles to get a new business off the ground. ...more
It's really difficult, once you read a book by an author and completely fall in love with it (hello, When You Reach Me), not to expect the same from every subsequent book. I know that I personally have to make a intentional effort NOT to have those same expectations for each new release. That really turned out to be a necessary effort for this book -- and that's not to say there was anything wrong with it. It just wasn't When You Reach Me. However, it is a Stead novel, which means that so many o ...more
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Henrico Mock Newb...: Liar & Spy 9 15 Jan 21, 2013 03:24PM  
SHSU Library Scie...: LIAR & SPY by Rebecca Stead 9 15 Nov 17, 2012 02:44PM  
Mock Newbery 2015: September Read - Liar & Spy 44 164 Oct 17, 2012 08:49PM  
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I love books but don't feel like stars capture what I want to say about them. Many of the books on my list are, in my opinion, amazing. Some I didn't like. But I give them all five stars, because stars make people - including me -- happy. Confused? Me too.

If you want to talk about any book I've read, I'm here.
More about Rebecca Stead...
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“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.” 39 likes
“Boredom is what happens to people who have no control over their minds.” 24 likes
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