Aug. 6th, 2014

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The Great Genre Reading Challenge was supposed to start with Literary, but as [ profile] monissaw has at least 100 days to wait before her library coughs up The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden, we thought we'd leapfrog along to Liar and Spy by Rebecca Stead.

Children's books haven't formed a regular part of my reading for some years now, although I did dip into the Harry Potter phenomenon briefly, before finding it inexplicable and climbing out while still only half-wet. Liar and Spy seems a perfectly good book for children. But it's not for me, which makes discussing it problematic. I don't like this and I don't like that can easily be rebutted by saying 'but it's not FOR you'. Which is true.

The narrator, Georges, has a fun, very readable voice. Unlike some books for children, which kill or otherwise remove the parents, or at least one parent, Georges has a mother and a father, and the book succeeds in evoking how much he misses his hard-working mother without ever having him directly express it.

One aspect I did find problematic is that the family have sold their house because of money problems, which is also the reason why Georges' mother is working lots of double shifts, yet they don't behave like money is a problem. When we first meet the family, Georges and his father go to a pizza place for lunch, then to a Chinese restaurant for dinner, and the next morning they go to a diner for breakfast. That signals affluence to me. Also, I wonder how come the mother is working so hard to fund all this eating in which she never gets to share. Still, these wouldn't be the first characters to plead poverty without actually being poor.

It's a fun book so far, though, with Georges and new friend Safer investigating the mysterious Mr X, into whose apartment go people and out of whose apartment come suitcases. Hmmm.


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