My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I have many librarian friends who raved endlessly about When You Reach Me, and then found Liar and Spy kind of a let-down afterwards. It was with this in mind that I decided I should read Liar and Spy first, to give it a chance NOT to disappoint me.
Boy, was I ever NOT disappointed.
In fact, I love this book with all my (admittedly shrivelled) heart. If When You Reach Me really is that much better… well, maybe I shouldn’t read it. Maybe it would make me give up writing in despair.
A little caveat first: this book is very quiet and small. Very quiet. Very small. If you’re not into quiet books, you can say to yourself, “Well, at least it’s small!” You can read it in an afternoon, even if you are an abysmally slow reader like myself.
Here’s where it’s awesome: theme. Everything fits and interweaves and interplays so beautifully. It’s like a Bach fugue — a really quiet one. Not that the pipe organ lends itself to quiet. Even the simple fact that Georges’s name has a silent “s” at the end resonates with the theme. It’s about the known and the unknown, the things we can and can’t, do and don’t perceive. The lies we tell and the things we refuse to see. Even the title plays into that.
My god it’s like a beautiful painting, and I could stare at it for hours. I am gnawing my own wrist with envy, which I realize is maybe not the cleverest thing I ever did.
Read it. Love it. I might not ever get around to When You Reach Me. I might not be able to handle it. We shall see.