Monday, March 22, 2010
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead is the winner of the 2010 Newbery Award. Set in New York in the late 1970s from the point of view of Miranda, a classic latchkey kid. When Miranda’s best friend, Sal, is beaten up by a strange boy on their walk home from school their friendship is destroyed for what seems like no good reason. Miranda is forced to widen her circle of friends and face all the usual complications involved in being a sixth grader. As if this weren't enough to deal with Miranda starts to receive a series unsettling and mysterious notes. Notes that only an omnipotent observer could write. The anonymous author promises "I am coming to save your friend's life and my own". Miranda must unravel the mystery of the penman, prepare for the impending danger, and help her mother prepare for a long-awaited stint on $20,000 Pyramid. Miranda’s fixation on Madeline L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time causes her to think about this problem in a whole new way as she ponders the possibility of time travel. At the end of the book Miranda comes away with a new empathy for others, a supportive group of friends, and a mind that is wide open to the most unlikely of possibilities.
This book will give children a feel for a different, more independent way of life in the big city. It's a gripping tale that is difficult to place in any particular genre. It’s a coming-of-age story with compelling elements of historical science fiction all wrapped around an overarching mystery. Because of the complex plot and themes it would be best appreciated by readers over 10 years of age. If you enjoy books like Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle, or From the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg you are sure to love this award-winning novel.
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