Review Blog

Mar 10 2010

When you reach me by Rebecca Stead

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Wendy Lamb Books, 2009. ISBN 9780385737425.
(Age 10+) Highly recommended. Winner of the prestigious Newbery Medal, When you reach me is a complex, challenging and ultimately very rewarding book. Set in the 1970's, it tells the story of Miranda, as she weaves her way through complications at school, having to walk past a crazy man on her way home and losing her best friend Sal, who after being hit by another boy, withdraws from her. Miranda writes to some unknown person, who has asked her to write down the events that have occurred. She tells of how her apartment key disappears and how anonymous notes appear telling her to do strange things.
Set in New York City, the book gives an intimate look into urban life. The reader gets to know Miranda's apartment, her school and the deli where she has a lunch time job with some friends. Characters in the book are finely drawn. Her mother is determined to win the $20,000 Pyramid game show and I became engrossed in the preparation and practice that Miranda and her mother's boyfriend, Richard, give her mother. She makes new friends and is appalled when she discovers that one of them, Marcus, fascinated by the idea of time travel, is the boy who hit Sal.
Miranda is obsessed with the book, A wrinkle in time by Madeline L'Engle and themes like time travel, friendship and  mystery thread through the book. It is a complicated puzzle: why is she receiving these notes, who has written them, and what is going to happen? Astute readers will ponder the clues on the way, others like me will rush ahead to see what happens. All in all a very satisfying book.
Pat Pledger

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