Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Liar and Spy by Rebecca Stead

Cover image for Liar & spyI once went to a storytelling conference, and the speaker, (whose name I can't now recall) said that in a really great story, there is an introduction, that sets the scene, and then an initial conflict. Then you add a secondary conflict and start to build intensity.  The intensity grows until, right before the climax, you all of a sudden add a surprise conflict.  All of a sudden the story isn't about what you thought it was about.  All the conflicts come to a climax and resolve, and there is a denouement. That exactly describes the plot of this book.  Georges' initial conflict is that his dad is unemployed and as a result they are moving from a house to an apartment and his mother is working overtime.  Then he meets this kid from his new apartment who claims that he needs to spy on one of the residents.  The story at this point is about how far Georges is willing to go to keep his new friend.  Then, near the end, Stead takes a sudden turn in the plot.  I must admit I didn't see it coming, even though Ms Stead left plenty of clues.  I was too caught up in the initial plot to pay much attention to them.  Ms Stead handled it all pretty well.  The kids' personalities are sympathetic and believable.  The situation is complicated and interesting.  It shows that Ms Stead wasn't just a one-book-wonder with her Newbery winner, When You Reach Me.  She knows how to craft a plot.  (180 p)

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