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young adult book reviews & more

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

When You Reach MeMiranda and Sal have been best friends practically since birth. They did everything together—from daycare naptime to walking to school—until sixth grade when Sal is suddenly punched by the new kid. Sal shuts Miranda out of his life, and that’s when Miranda’s life starts to spin out of control. The spare key to Miranda’s apartment is stolen, the crazy guy on the corner’s behavior becomes even stranger, and Miranda starts receiving mysterious notes from an undisclosed person. These notes are what freak her out the most because they reveal things no one should know, things that haven’t even happened yet. But even though Miranda would like to forget all the crazy new things in her life, especially the notes, she can’t, because as unbelievable as the messages seem, the impending tragic death they warn of doesn’t feel like a lie. And Miranda might be the only one who can prevent it, if she can only truly understand the notes before it’s too late.

When You Reach Me is a truly delightful and remarkably unique story that incorporates themes as simple as friendship and love to concepts as complex as the scientific possibility of time travel. Readers will be drawn into Miranda’s story from the first page with the exciting air of mystery Stead creates. The mystery of the notes is probably the most thrilling aspect of this novel, with their seemingly unexplainable appearances and threat of real danger, but all the other sections of the story are also similarly well developed. Stead does a fantastic job of making When You Reach Me believable, even with farfetched theories such as time travel. Miranda, somewhat precocious, and the rest of the cast are three-dimensional characters easy to understand. Stead also portrays the tween years well, when peers’ opinions start to make an impact and guy-girl interaction is more about tentative crushes. It’s a rare gem when you find a novel that successfully and wonderfully combines a realistic version of everyday life with complicated scientific mystery as much as Stead has in When You Reach Me. In fact, Stead’s storytelling skills are so advanced, I’m surprised this novel is classified as middle grade; the only things middle grade about it are Miranda and her friends’ ages and the air of innocence to the story. I think the middle grade audience may even have some difficulty understanding the discussion of time travel; I know I did at times. But as well as that slight confusion, this novel also provokes deep thought of the complexities of modern science, and faith and hope in the future.

When You Reach Me will be enjoyed by readers of all ages, from middle grade up. This novel, one of the sweetest and most genius I’ve ever read, will be enjoyed by those who liked A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, a novel much referenced in this story.

Rating: 4.5

Review copy from Amazon Vine

5 munch(es) :

towerofbooks said...

Thanks for the review! I've been interested in reading this book since I read the sypnosis. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it.

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Thao said...

The cover is surely not attractive but the story itself seems really good.

Angie said...

This is the third favorable review I've read of that book - I think that means I'm definitely going to have to read it. Thanks for the review.

Juju said...

Hi!
I'm a new follower!
This looks really good.
I'm heading over to add it to my shelf.

PS
There’s an award for you on my blog:
http://talesofwhimsy.blogspot.com/2009/07/admiration-time.html

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