I love When You Reach Me and was excited to begin Liar & Spy. I grabbed it the minute it came and headed for my favorite reading spot. I made it to about page 20 before I was nodding off. I chalked that up to a long work day and tried again the next afternoon. Snooze. Long story short, it took me a long time to get through it. I stuck with it out of respect for the fine writing and the desire to see if Stead could pull off the twist ending again (she did).
Liar & Spy just doesn't have that kid appeal that held my interest with When You Reach Me. Stead's an excellent writer with a tight story and well developed characters. Even though they were very well-drawn, I just wasn't interested in them. There was an undercurrent of melancholy, a sadness, that permeated the whole thing. When you get to the ending, you see that Stead did this on purpose (as part of that surprise ending), but it just created a depression in the story that left me flat.
I hated when I saw reviews like this with regard to When You Reach Me. I wanted to point out all the amazing things that Stead does in her writing; and she does it again with Liar & Spy. Due to the strong writing, there will be many readers who enjoy the tale. I'm just not certain the average 10 year old will be engaged with this one.
-------------------- Resources --------------------Genre: Realistic Fiction
Age: 9 and up
Themes: Family Life & Challenges, Friendship, Honesty, Difficult Choices, Bullies
Character Development: Interesting group of children and adults with a few quirks
Plot Engagement: Develops slowly and methodically, strong readers needed
Originality: quirky family + economically challenged family = Eh, so so
Believability: Nothing that takes it out of the norm
Thank You to publisher for my advanced copy
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books ( a division of Random House Books)
Date: August 7, 2012
Buy Liar & Spy HERE
Rebecca Stead is a Newbery winning author. Thinking that writing was "impractical" she became a lawyer. I LOVE her advice on using parentheticals. You can read more about it on her website (HERE).
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