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Liar & SpyLiar & Spy by Rebecca Stead

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It was so easy to slip into this story. Rebecca Stead does an excellent job with world-building, which is a concept I usually think of more with fantasy novels, but I think it applies to any story where a sense of place is crucial to the story. Here, it’s an apartment building. The whole story takes place within walking distance of Georges’ new building. It’s very much about discovering a new place, a place that maybe you’d rather not be, but which turns out to have its own rewards.

The story is also layered beautifully – lots of little things that add up to something bigger. There’s a hint of mystery, developing friendships, contrasts between now and then, school bullies, family dynamics. It all ends up feeling necessary.

I might even bump up my rating after I sit on this one for a while. It didn’t blow me away, but it has all the hallmarks of excellence.

Source: ARC from NetGalley
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When You Reach Me When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

My rating: 4 of 5 stars What can I say that hasn’t already been said in a million positive reviews? It’s one of those books that doesn’t waste time on filler. It’s neat and tidy and to the point, while still capturing something evocative about childhood. Despite all the mentions of A Wrinkle in Time, the pace of the adventure is a bit quieter here, but the mysteries of the story will be rewarding to readers who don’t require a lot of excitement. Which isn’t to say that the story isn’t engaging – it is – but it requires some attention. I could guess a few plot developments early on, but the characters never felt predictable or pat. The moment in the television studio towards the end, when Miranda pieces it all together, caught me up completely. Stead’s portrayal of middle school friendships was just so accurate, and the sense of time and place also strongly contributed to the story. With so much buzz, I’m curious to see how this book does with both young readers and awards committees. Slim and succinct, I’d probably recommend this to 4th graders and up, despite the age of the characters. I might also recommend it to fans of mysteries who are more interested in piecing together clues than action and adventure. View all my reviews >>

August 2022

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