Liar & Spy
by Rebecca Stead
Random House, 2012. 180 pgs. Fiction.
Georges takes a lot of flack for the silent "s" in his name. Dallas Llewellyn and Carter Dixon called him Gorgeous and shove him around when no teachers are watching. To make matters much worse, his father has been laid off so his mom is gone all the time working extra shifts at the hospital, and they have had to move from his beloved home with the fire escape in the bedroom. When Georges attends a Spy Club meeting in the apartment's laundry room he meets Safer, a kid who is sure the man in black from an upstairs apartment is hauling out bodies in his over-sized luggage. The two begin to spy on the man, with Safer making Georges stand guard while he sneaks into the man's apartment to search for incriminating evidence. Along the way Georges struggles with the bullying at school, relying on Scrabble-tile messages to communicate with his mother, and watching America's Funniest Home Videos to cheer himself up. Although Liar & Spy is not as cosmic, shall we say, as Stead's Newbery-winning When You Reach Me, it is rich with her trademark good humor, her recurring theme of friendship threatened and reestablished, and her memorable and endearing characters. Rich reading from a modern master.