Wednesday, April 14, 2010
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
Twelve-year-old Miranda encounters shifting friendships, a sudden punch, a strange homeless man and mysterious notes that hint at knowledge of the future. These and other seemingly random events converge in a brilliantly constructed plot. – from: http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/%20newberymedal/newberymedal.cfm
So, what was so great about his book? The voice, Miranda’s voice, was incredibly authentic. She was cute, spunky and genuinely concerned about those around her. Yet she was sometimes selfish and gave her mom a bit of lip. She isn’t perfect but she sure is loveable. Stead captures the concerns of a 12-year-old perfectly. Miranda often asks: Why does my best friend avoid me? Why do the girls at school give me dirty looks? She becomes aware of her family’s lack of money. Her first crush develops. And in addition to these normal bumps to growing up, Miranda receives mysterious and rather alarming notes. These notes drive the plot as Miranda tries to puzzle them together. I enjoyed how the book is written as Miranda’s reply to the messenger and how the text begins addressing someone we don’t know. This is a touching story of growing up, learning how to be a good friend and opening oneself up to possibilities. I don’t want to give too much away as there is quite a bit of mystery. The plot kept me guessing and I wasn’t sure of the messenger’s identity until he/she is revealed.
This text references A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (my review) throughout the book so, if you haven’t read Wrinkle you may want to do so first or at least read a synopsis of it before reading Stead’s book. Miranda finds comfort and role models in her favorite book and is alarmed when others try to pick it apart. She says, “The truth is that I hate to think about other people reading my book. It’s like watching someone go through the box of private stuff that I keep under my bed” (Stead 49). That’s often how I feel when a book is discussed in class and characters that I adore are scrutinized. It’s funny how adults will become defensive and argue their favorite character’s integrity! I can see this being a teacher’s great challenge when discussing books with kids and trying to get them to see a different perspective. Have you ever felt so strongly about a fictional character? When You Reach Me was a perfect story and a must read. I’m sure it will be a well-loved book for years to come.
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books of Random House, 2009
Rating: 5 Stars Source: IC Public Library Pages: 200 Recommended Age: 10 +