When You Reach Me

Rebecca Stead

When You Reach Me
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When You Reach Me

Rebecca Stead

Miranda and Sal are best friends, but when Sal gets punched by a new kid for no apparent reason, he shuts Miranda out of his life. Then she finds a mysterious note scrawled on a tiny slip of paper: I am coming to save your friend’s life, and my own. I ask two favours. First, you must write me a letter. Miranda finds other notes left for her in strange places and she realises that whoever is leaving them knows all about her, including things that haven’t even happened yet…When You Reach Me is a story about friendship and time. It’s an intriguing puzzle with pieces that fit together in the most intricate and unexpected ways.

Review

When You Reach Me is the kind of book that cannot be read through the eyes of anyone but children. Which is not to say that this is a book for children only, but that anyone who reads it will read with the same wonder, voracity and exuberance that kids read with.

Miranda lives with her mother on the upper west side of 1970s New York City. Strange things start happening around Miranda, beginning with her best friend Sal who is punched by another kid in the street for apparently no reason. Then the spare key to Miranda’s apartment gets stolen and a strange note appears out of nowhere in one of her library books:

I am coming to save your friend’s life, and my own. I ask two favours. First, you must write me a letter…

The odd letters keep coming at Miranda and it appears there may be a tragedy lurking just around the corner.

New York author Rebecca Stead manages to be nostalgic and fresh all at once. There are references to A Wrinkle In Time – the only book that Miranda will read – but this reference is also an important cog in the overall plot. Several scenes from Stead’s own childhood are reimagined in the novel; most memorably the scene where Miranda and her friends get jobs working at a sandwich shop during their school lunch break.

To tell any more would be to spoil the wonderful surprises waiting at the end of the book, lest to say that the final few pages are world-shatteringly good and will leave no doubt that the book’s 2010 Newbery Medal win was earned.

Appropriate for anyone aged 8 and older, children will revel in this book and adults will revel in reading a book with children’s eyes once more.

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