When You Reach Me

by Rebecca Stead

Brief Summary: Miranda, a sixth-grader living in late 70s NYC, keeps finding mysterious notes in mysterious places. Places that notes should not appear in and the notes – addressed directly to Miranda – seem to be predicting the future. Not sure whether to believe them or not, Miranda continues her daily life of attending school and trying to make and keep her friends. But what is written in the notes is coming true and seem to be leading to a very unhappy ending.

Kell’s Chatty Review: At the heart of When You Reach Me is a mystery. But there’s also friendship, hope, heartbreak and warmth. I’m scared to say too much, for fear of giving away some delightful moments in the plot, but I found this book to be completely charming.

The Mystery: unravels itself incredibly well. There’s a bit of jumping back and forth in time that got slightly confusing, but never enough to deter the reader. While I figured out who the mysterious person was before it was revealed, I did not understand the why until it happened, which was brilliant.

The Relationships: There is an incredibly large cast of characters in this relatively short book. None seemed to be extraneous, though. Actually, I felt it was an honest depiction of the number of people that are linked to a sixth-grader between school and home and all that’s in-between. What made it well done was that the relationships were unique and interesting enough to prevent confusion.

Newbery Buzz: This is one of the many books getting Newbery buzz for the 2010 Newbury awards. While I can never be sure what will win (I am always surprised by at least three books that are honored between the Newbery, Printz and Morris, and usually have never heard of at least one), I would be a little disappointed if this book didn’t get at least an honor. It’s such a complete story!

What I most wanted to do after reading this book: Read A Wrinkle in Time. (Although Miranda gives away some major spoilers) I know, it’s a sin I’ve never read it. Believe me, I am aware of this.

What life lesson I learned from this book: Like with many well-written books, there are many life lessons to choose from. I, however, felt that the friendship lesson – that friendship can evolve, change and exist in large doses and small – was the most resounding of the bunch.

Where this book came from: This book was an ARC I got at ALAMW09 for free at the publisher’s booth. (Squee!)

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