Once in a great while, I read a book that is so amazing, all I want to do is read another one exactly like it. Well, maybe not exactly like it, but at least very closely related to it. Usually, this isn’t a big problem. If the book is the first in a series, I just read the sequel. If the author is prolific, I move on to his/her other works.
But what about books that are unique in their greatness and the author hasn’t published any more like them? Case in point: when I first read The Invention of Hugo Cabret, I had never read a book like it. (At that point, Wonderstruck had not been published yet.) I was recommending this amazing reading experience (it is so awesome, I hesitate to call it a book) to everyone I saw: man, woman and child. Kids would usually take the recommendation, and then request a similar book. Unfortunately, now we were in the same boat: waiting until Brian Selznick came out with his next creation that would knock our socks off.
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead was another one of those books for me. She offers us complex characters who are dealing with the reality of life. Even when you’re 12, life is rarely a perfect experience. Rebecca Stead isn’t afraid to explore growing pains and this enriches her writing. She also can tell a great story. A story that makes you wonder what is really going on, and what might happen. As I read, I had my own suspicions about the ending, and I loved Miranda and all of the other characters so much, I desperately hoped that everything would turn out alright.
So, I’ve been waiting for her sophmore novel, Liar & Spy, ever since I finished the last page of When You Reach Me. The book is set in NYC in present day. Georges has just moved from the house he loves into an apartment. His dad is in the middle of a career change and he mom is swamped with work. Georges is an outsider at school and the target for bullies. He slogs through each week, high-fiving his gym teacher on Friday afternoon to celebrate two days of freedom stretched out before them.
All of this changes when Georges meets an unusual family in his apartment building. Safer, a boy Georges’ age, is a spy in training and knows the comings and goings of everyone in the building. Candy, Safer’s younger sister, has an obsession with her namesake and a penchant for changing her outfit many times each day. As Georges’ relationship with Safer and his family develops, he learns not to make assumptions about others and that it is possible to create your own rules.
I would love to gush about the details, but it’s one of those books that is best to read yourself, discovering all the twists and turns as you go. Liar & Spy comes out on August 7th. I would highly recommend it to kids and adults who are looking for a book so good it will keep you away from Netflix Instant Play (true story).
Recommendation: 5 out of 5 lupines