Liar & Spy


The decline in Georges’ family’s fortunes has resulted in a move to an apartment block, and his mother’s constant hospital shifts. Threatened at school, lost at home, Georges is distracted by Safer, another resident in the building with an exceptional nose for espionage, and a family that is oddly Bohemian.

The reader walks in Georges’ shoes, tastes Georges’ tastes and wills him to succeed despite his fears, doubts and secrets.

Liar & Spy‘ is an exceptional novel, one I recommend to any reader with emotional intelligence, empathy, and a reading commitment.


Liar & Spy

Rebecca Stead

(Andersen Press)

Who is the Liar & Spy?  Georges’ move to an apartment block coincides with his mother’s long hours at the hospital. There seems to be a concerted bullying campaign against him also. Furthermore, there’s a boy in the new apartment block with extraordinary powers of surveillance. Safer seems to know everything about Georges, yet Georges knows so little about himself. He’s trying to stay strong and not admit that the move from his home to a small apartment hurts. In addition, he’s trying not to feel angry with his father for losing his job. Every morning, there are messages in scrabble tiles from his mother, but this is poor compensation for his mass of fears and sorrow.
What of Safer, the boy upstairs? There are flasks of coffee and ever growing stories of the exploits of Mr X, who resides in the apartment above Georges.
I love the play on names and words, e.g., Georges is named after pointillist artist Georges Seurat, while Safer… Safer? There are many clues, many deceptions, much to reveal within  ‘Liar & Spy’. This is an outstanding title, original, compelling and absolutely necessary. We recommend Rebecca Stead’s books, including When You Reach Me and First Light.

Winner of the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize.


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