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Liar and Spy

By Rebecca Stead

This is Rebecca Stead’s third book for children. Like her earlier novels First Light and When You Reach Me, this one features kids making a difficult passage through the middle school years. And like her earlier books, this one is excellent and enjoyable to grownups. She’s not a flash in the pan. This third book shows that she is reliably plotting smart, inventive, surprising stories about things that will change her characters lives.

I think it would be great to build a writing workshop around any one of her books. They are great illustrations of how stories work.

For me, the pleasure of reading each of Stead’s books has come from the plot. The characters and settings are fine, but it truly is her plotting that has turned my head. I won’t say more about this book’s plot, because, fellow TBR’ers, I’m hoping you’ll get curious and read the book. I’ll just say that just as I had to go back and re-watch The Sixth Sense (the movie with with Haley Joel Osment and Bruce Willis) to see how the director slid that plot by me, when I finished Liar and Spy, I turned from the last page straight back to the first page and read it again.

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