Sep 22, 09
Recommended to Selena by:
Michael Kindness & Ann Kingman
I own a copy
I mostly read adult fiction. I dabble in young adult. I don’t read a lot of middle reader writing. But I thoroughly enjoyed and was surprised by When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead.
The book is about Miranda, named after the Miranda Rights, who receives four letters that end up changing her life. The story takes place in west side New York City in the year 1979. Miranda is also fixatied by A Wrinkle in Time. As such, it plays a large part in the plot and surprise of the book. I adored L’Engle as a child and was incredibly pleased to see how it worked with Miranda’s story.
When You Reach Me is one of those books where if you give away anything but the absolute minimum about the plot, you’ll lose the surprise and thrill of experiencing it yourself.
Part of why I never ventured into middle reader books was becuase I imagined the books would be overly simplistic. I like the flowery language of adult literature and the action thrills of most young adult literature. I didn’t know that middle reader had anything to really offer me. And that may not be true. When You Reach Me asks the reader to put together the puzzle alongside Miranda. But it is more than a straight-forward mystery – relying on A Wrinkle in Time and the larger story of Miranda’s friends and family.
Having little experience with middle reader, I also wasn’t sure how often science fiction and fantasy elements made it into the text. I assume it would be incredibly thrilling for younger kids, spurring on their imagination, to read science fiction – so it may be a common theme. However, what I throught was particularly clever about When You Reach Me was the way that science fiction so realistically blended into the story. It didn’t seem out of the ordinary in any way, on the contrary, it made perfect sense.
When You Reach Me is Rebecca Stead’s second novel. First Light is her first novel which came out in 2007 – if it is half as great as When You Reach Me, I’m sure I will love it.
(Also, once you read the story, the cover’s secret reveals itself to you! Very clever!)
A special thanks to Michael Kindness and Ann Kingman (of the famed Books on the Nightstand) for sending me a copy of this gorgeous book.