Liar And Spy | Rebecca Stead | Book Review

I love middle grade books, and I seriously say that on every single middle grade review that I write, but honestly it totally bears repeating. When I saw that Liar & Spy by acclaimed author Rebecca Stead was on that PW (I think) list of books to look for at BEA, I knew that I had to have it. I KNOW I WAS ONE OF THOSE. But seriously, I got kind of lucky because I was just wandering around and a nice Random House person kind of pressed it into my hands and I was like SCORE. Y’all, I read Liar And Spy during the October 2012 Readathon and let me just say that while it’s been awhile, it was the perfect readathon book.

Liar And Spy Rebecca Stead Book Cover

Georges moves from a house that he loves to an apartment in Brooklyn because his architect dad lost his job. Also, his mom has to work overtime at the hospital just for their family to make ends meet. Unfortunately, he does not love the apartment — how could he, the bedroom is not nearly as cool as the one his dad made for him. Anyways, he ends up becoming friends with another boy, homeschooled, named Safer after answering a flyer to join Spy Club in the laundry room. Georges must spy on a man code named Mr. X as part of his assignment from Safer. So, anyways, Georges is also having a tough time at school because he’s being bullied by the popular kids.

Y’all, I just want to adopt Georges. He’s so awkward and awesome and sad and earnest. And ugh, bullies are seriously the worst, so I could empathize with Georges. Also, he’s an only child, and he came across as so lonely. Anyways, I really loved Georges and thought his relationship with his mother was awesome — they communicate via Scrabble tiles when she’s working long shifts, how brilliant is that?

Honestly, after gobbling up Liar And Spy by Rebecca Stead in like an hour and a half, I knew I’d definitely be reading her other books. I loved that Stead has a writing style that trusts the reader. As an adult, I never felt beat over the head with the obvious. Instead, the book is quiet and kind of unassuming. I like that. I like that it isn’t in your face. I like that it’s smart. I like that it’s quirky. The characters are so unique, like Safer’s sister Candy who like her name, is obsessed with candy. Actually, I just loved Safer’s whole family. I thought her writing flowed very well, even in the uncorrected copy.

Frankly, this isn’t a super long review because it has been an incredibly long time since I’ve read Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead. Yet, I didn’t want to go without reviewing or talking about the book here on Good Books And Good Wine because it’s legitimately a great read, regardless of whether you like middle grade or not — and I just LOVE talking about great reads whether it’s with 1000 words or 500 words. So, if you’re into unassuming reads with great characterization and some quirks along the way chances are you will enjoy Liar & Spy.

Disclosure: Received for review at BEA 2012.

Other reviews of Liar And Spy by Rebecca Stead:

There’s A Book – “one I cannot wait to not only read again, but pass down to my own kiddos.
Beth Fish Reads – “so full of wonderful
Devourer Of Books – “a wonderful, realistic middle grade novel

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. I love middle grade novels, too!! Love them. I read When You Reach Me by Stead awhile ago. I liked it quite a lot, although I must admit to liking the Newbery honors for that year more (Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate). I haven’t read Liar & Spy, but now I feel like I need to grab that from the library on Monday. Thanks for the review!

    • Yay for loving MG — I feel like it’s really underrepresented and has a lot of potential for people who also like YA. OOOO I need to read When You Reach Me still, I have a copy that I bought from Oblong. Also, I have not read those honors books either — I’ll definitely check them out eventually, though.

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this! I love reading MG books too. I think it’s because it makes me feel so young again…I was a voracious reader and it is books like this that were staples for me in the 7-11 age. I always wanted the MG “literature,” not the stuff like Goosebumps or Babysitters Club (though I readily admit to reading something like a Sweet Valley High every once in a while!!). (Well, actually Goosebumps wasn’t even around when I was that age, but you get the idea…)

    Anyway, I’ve been wanting to read Liar & Spy for quite a while, and I’ll be sure to borrow it from the library now! The book that Quinn mentions above, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, is one I got for my niece (she’s 11 now, think she was 9 or 10 at the time) and she says it’s her absolute favorite book, ever! The author (Grace Lin? Or maybe Li?) wrote what I believe is a companion novel that was published in the second half of 2012, but with a young boy as protagonist. I’ve been meaning to read Where the Mountain Meets the Moon too, since my niece loves it so much! Have you read The Spindlers by Lauren Oliver or Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger, both released last year? I want to read those too. I’m just soooo much slower since having a kid than I’ve ever been in my life – there are way too many books I “keep meaning to read” but never seem to get to! Argh. [One more thing to note, if you’re considering having kids, and one that no one prepared me for!!! 🙁 ]

  3. I am legitimately a fan of well-done middle grade novels, and this certainly sounds like one. Even though you characterize this as being quiet, I do think I’d enjoy it if I read it, as sometimes that does work for me.

  4. I read When You Reach Me and liked it, though I didn’t love it because I’d heard it being compared to The Time Traveller’s Wife so my expectations were a bit off. I liked her writing though and I like middle grade books so I’ll try this one. I love characters like Georges too!

  5. I really liked this book too and it definitely made me want to check out Stead’s other writing-she is a writer to watch for me!