The Compulsive Reader: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Monday, May 13, 2013

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

As a part of my mission to read more middle grade fiction, I finally made time to pick up When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. I've heard so many great things about this book, and it lived up to every one of my expectations!

Miranda and her best friend Sal live in the same apartment building and spend most of their time together, exploring their neighborhood and walking to and from school together. When an older boy punches Sal  for no discernible reason, Sal stops talking to Miranda and she feels lonelier than ever. As she slowly starts to make new friends, she begins receiving mysterious notes from a stranger that hint at tragedy awaiting Sal...and only Miranda has the power to prevent it.

Miranda's narration in When You Reach Me is magnetic and so engaging. Stead does a fantastic job at portraying New York City of 1979, populated with many colorful and diverse characters who all play their own part, big or small, in the mystery that unfolds. When Sal severs all contact with Miranda, Miranda is reluctant to reach out to new people, but as she slowly makes new friends and begins receiving her mysterious notes, she realizes the importance of contact and the effects of small acts of kindness. All of these lessons build up to a tense climax that gives Miranda a new perspective that allows her to see reality and piece together the clues to an impossible answer she has been pondering (and avoiding) for months. This fantastic book is indeed an homage to Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time, and sure to be equally popular among adults and younger readers.

Cover Comments: This cover is wonderful in its simplicity. I love how many of the objects are important clues in the novel, and the way that they are laid out on a city grid is awesome.

Book borrowed from the library.


LinWash said...

Good. Glad you read this. I loved this book. This is time travel done well. Now, I want you to read Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage. :-)

Amanda said...

My younger sister read this book and loves it. I am curious about its relation to A Wrinkle in Time - as in, whether it more mentions that story, or whether it's inspired by it/a retelling. I still am reluctant to read many middle grade books, but I have heard great things about this. Glad you ended up enjoying it!

The Compulsive Reader said...

Adding Three Times Lucky to my list, Linda! Thanks!

The Compulsive Reader said...

Amanda: It only mentions and talks about A Wrinkle in Times, no retellings or anything of the sort. But if anyone liked A Wrinkle in Time, I'd definitely recommend this book.