Title: When You Reach Me
Author: Rebecca Stead
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books (Random House)
Length: 197 pages
Sixth graders Miranda and Sal are inseparable until Sal gets randomly punched one day as they walk home from school together on the New York City streets. Sal shuts Miranda out of his life, and Miranda must deal with the crazy guy on the corner, a stolen house key, and new lunchtime friendships all on her own. Then Miranda starts finding mysterious notes, the first of which says “I am coming to save your friend’s life, and my own.” At first, she doesn’t take these letters and the requests they make seriously, until she realizes that the author somehow knows things that no one else knows, things that haven’t happened yet.
I’m leaping into slightly new territory here by reviewing this Newbury winner because it’s more J than YA. “Middle grade” might be the proper publishing term for it. What this means for you: it’s a short read, less than two hundred pages (and very short chapters-I just kept reading!) and its narrator is younger.
Despite these differences, I really connected with the book. Maybe because it takes place in the late 1970’s, a throwback to the books I read as a kid. Miranda’s favorite book, which she reads throughout the novel is A Wrinkle in Time, a favorite of mine as a kid and still today. I also loved this book for its original story, which is wrapped in the mysterious, a harkening back to books like A Wrinkle in Time, where science fiction blurs with the real world.
And like any good book, this one is about figuring things out, which I was all about in 6th grade, and might still be all about today. Miranda has to cope with the loss of her best friend, a mom who is practicing to be on a TV game show, and the possibility of time travel, just to name a few.
Definitely worth the quick read.