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Monday, May 17, 2010

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

When You Reach MeRemember on Mother's Day when I got to read two entire books? The first one I read was When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. After reading glowing reviews from several other bloggers, including Ms. Marjorie Ingall, who has never steered me wrong, I put it on hold from the library. And then I went to Hawaii and the book came in and went back out again without me being in town to pick it up. I finally put it back on hold a couple weeks ago and managed to get it read. So, with that backstory, was it worth it? Yes, it totally was. 

So, what's it about? This one is a middle grade fiction book (in my library this means it's shelved in the juvenile section, not YA) about Miranda, a 6th grader who lives with her mom in New York City. She's been lifelong best friends with Sal and her guide to life is a tattered copy of A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. Her mom is studying to be on the $20,000 Pyramid and is a bit distracted, so Miranda is a latchkey kid in the afternoons.   She starts to find cryptic little notes that hint at something that is going to happen, and there is a good bit of spooky foreshadowing to the story.  The entire book is told from Miranda's perspective looking back at everything that happened.

You should be forewarned that there is a bit of time travel in this one. It's not all scientific or science fiction-y, but more like the time travel in The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.  You don't have to remember A Wrinkle in Time well, and you don't have to suspend disbelief too much. It's really just a story about a girl who is learning to deal with changing friendships and the way one moment can change everything. Miranda's friendship with Sal is on the rocks, despite having been best friends for their entire lives. She's started to make friends with the girls in her class, and has to reassess how she feels about them.   She struggles a bit over a crush on a certain boy, and about kinda liking (in a friendly way!) a boy who she should dislike. Basically, it's about middle school! But it's adorable and smart and the action rolls and keeps you going and there really aren't any extra moments at all. I would have loved this one as a 6th grader, and I highly recommend it now.

Have you read this one? What did you think? Do you think the inclusion of time travel in an otherwise ordinary (ie, non-paranormal, non-sci-fi) book is a turn off or do you think that it adds just a little to the story? Does it change your opinion of the book either before or after reading it? Does it make you less likely to pick it up to start with? Is this something you would have enjoyed as a child? If you read it and reviewed it leave me a link and we'll compare notes.

When You Reach Me won the Newbery Medal in 2010 and while I haven't read the other nominees, I can certainly see how this one made it to the top. (For a full list of Newbery Award winners, click here.)

You can find Rebecca Stead online here.

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
Wendy Lamb Books
208 pages

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  1. I haven't read this one, but I'd like to since it won the Newbery medal.

  2. I absolutely loved this one. I think I could go back and re-read it and get a lot out of it a second time through.

  3. I listened to When You Reach Me on audio last week and absolutely loved it! I liked the time travel element - and thought it especially fitting with the tie-in to Wrinkle in Time.

  4. I will put this on my ever growing list of books to read.


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