I hesitate to provide too much information about Rebecca Stead's latest book Liar & Spy. As the story unfolded, I loved how she craftily provided hints about the characters' truths and fictions. I would not want to spoil that discovery process for other readers.
I loved the narrator and main character, Georges, named for the artist Seurat. A copy of the artist's painting hangs in the living room of the apartment Georges and his family recently acquired after having to vacate their home due to financial difficulties. Sir Ott, as Georges calls the painting, is his companion when he watches taped episodes of America's Funniest Home Videos. Georges is teased mercilessly by the cool crowd at school yet he ignores everything, attempting to see the big picture, just as he sees the whole of the Seurat, not the tiny dots of color.
I loved how Georges and his mom, an ICU nurse, leave messages for each other with Scrabble tiles, some of which result in locating more information. Georges provided just enough information about his mom's hospital life to keep me wondering and to give me ideas about her real story.
I loved the intensity with which Safer, another boy living in the apartment building, took to making Georges part of the Spy Club. He studied the parrot nest from the window of their apartment building and the lobbycam to spy on incoming residents and visitors. He noted and observed things Georges had not even considered.
I loved the way like-minded young people - just as I have observed in real life - came together to help one another. I can imagine reading this book aloud to 5th graders and seeing recognition in many faces.
And I loved Candy, the younger sister and assistant of Safer, who lives up to her name in her desire for candy. Starbursts are a favorite, as are giant SweeTarts. She once mentions to Georges that Mr. Orange will not care if they have anything in their teeth for their wedding photos.
"Mr. Orange. That's who I'm going to marry. Someone who likes orange."
"You're going to marry someone because you both like orange?"
"No!" She makes a face. "I hate orange. The color and the flavor. It's the only flavor I don't like, actually. That's the whole point. I hate it, he loves it. That way we can always share the pack."
"Pack of what?"
"Stabursts. Lifesavers. Jolly Ranchers. Whatever."
Believe it or not, I have not written too much. I really loved this book. I am anxious to talk about it with anyone else who has read it!