Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tween Tuesday (9) - When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Tween Tuesday is a weekly meme created by GreenBeanTeenQueen, one of my favorite blogs. Surprise, surprise - it features books aimed at Tweens.

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead


Four mysterious letters change Miranda’s world forever.
By sixth grade, Miranda and her best friend, Sal, know how to navigate their New York City neighborhood. They know where it’s safe to go, like the local grocery store, and they know whom to avoid, like the crazy guy on the corner.

But things start to unravel. Sal gets punched by a new kid for what seems like no reason, and he shuts Miranda out of his life. The apartment key that Miranda’s mom keeps hidden for emergencies is stolen. And then Miranda finds a mysterious note scrawled on a tiny slip of paper: 

I am coming to save your friend’s life, and my own.
I must ask two favors. First, you must write me a letter.
The notes keep coming, and Miranda slowly realizes that whoever is leaving them knows all about her, including things that have not even happened yet. Each message brings her closer to believing that only she can prevent a tragic death. Until the final note makes her think she’s too late. (courtesy of Goodreads)


Finally a Newberry book that has a wide appeal. When You Reach Me is a fabulous book that will suck readers in much like its muse, Wrinkle in Time. 

Miranda is struggling with the loss of her best friend Sal, who began ignoring her after an odd incident while they were walking home. Her life is further complicated by her new friends, her mom's boyfriend who wants more involvement in the family and a mysterious crazy homeless man on the corner. Then s she begins receiving notes that ask her do to things and seemingly predict the future. What should she do with these notes? Why is she receiving them? 

The story is clearly inspired by Wrinkle in Time. In fact, it tells the entire story over the book as Miranda, Marcus, and Julia talk about it. Miranda loves the book and carries a threadbare copy with her like a teddy-bear. I haven't read Wrinkle in Time since I was 10; I really want to re-read it now. 

The book is set in the late 70s in New York City. You can tell book is from a previous era by the lack of technology and references here and there. But for the most part, it's timeless. The book is really about the characters and the story. I love how Stead developed rich, 3-dimensional characters. We see their flaws and also understand why the flaws exist. The story unfolds wonderfully. I wasn't particularly surprised by the ending, but I was surprised by how Stead developed and explained the conclusion. All in all, it's a rich, satisfying story.

Rating: 4.5 / 5


  1. Ooh, I loved this book!

  2. It's funny, I liked this one, but didn't love it and felt like an outsider after all these people gushed about it. I guess I just didn't get the love for it and I didn't think it had a big tween appeal. But that's just me I guess. I think my problem was I wanted more to the time travel aspect and I had everything figured out early on and I wanted to be surprised.

  3. One of my favorites! Agreed, the way the conclusion played out was amazing. Absolutely loved it. :D

  4. I loved this one too! I think you're right about the timeless appeal. Though it's clearly not set in our present, I don't know if I would have known it was from the 70s if I hadn't been told before hand.

  5. I've been intrigued by this book for awhile becuase I really like the cover but I haven't gotten around to reading it yet. But it sounds interesting. I'm going to add it to my to-read list.

    Thanks for the review!

  6. I'm with GreenBeanTeenQueen, I thought it was good, I liked it, but it didn't wow me. We read it for book group and pretty much no one really liked it until the very end. I agree that it will appeal to lots of kids, though.

  7. This was one Newbery winner that I knew was going to win the moment I read it. I was so excited to have guessed right. My students love this book, though maybe not quite as much as I do :)


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