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Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead
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's review
Sep 01, 12

** spoiler alert ** I was disappointed in this, primarily by comparison with When You Reach Me, which I think is an almost-perfect time-travel story, beautifully and economically written, and full of interesting characters. Liar & Spy tried. It has the lovely economical writing, and Georges has a true-sounding voice (even as we find out late in the book that he's been lying to us all along). The homeschooling family upstairs from him is fun; a lot of my homeschooling friends would recognize bits of themselves both in what makes that family lovely and in what makes it strange. I was very disappointed by three things about the ending. In order from "mildly" to "profoundly" disappointing, they were:

1. All the homeschooling kids actually wanted to go to school.

2. The friendship between Georges and Safer is predicated on an extended lie that I was much less forgiving of than the characters in the book were. When people argue with Georges that he should have known, he must have known, that nobody could ever imagine that such a thing could actually be true, it felt humiliating and victim-blaming to me. Profound lies are OK if they're so unlikely that the person being lied to shouldn't have believed them? No.

3. Once Georges finds out that Safer is agoraphobic, he fixes him! In, like, a matter of weeks! I did not care at all for this portrayal of what is a serious anxiety disorder.

Oh, and I guess there's another one that should slip in as 1.a.: The lie Georges is telling us about his mother. I didn't like it, and I didn't like the way it was resolved. It felt like a faux mystery the book didn't need, and with the mother off the page for the whole book, it was also a situation we were weirdly distanced from emotionally.

I'd have liked it as a young person, I'm sure, and I think my pre-teen friends who are avid readers would probably enjoy it as well.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Gillian great review and I totally agree, down to the part about probably really enjoying it as a younger reader. I think this book had a very tough act to follow - I still enjoyed it but it doesn't have the depth of her first two.

Catecat I agree with ur review! I put my standards too high for liar and spy. Also I think it was just a waste to.....

.....write that safer was just playing with georges (is that his name or is that from when you reach me?) the whole time. -_-

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