Alex Tierney's Reviews > When You Reach Me

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
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Apr 22, 2012

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When You Reach Me is about Miranda, a sixth-grader in the late 1970s, who lives with her mother in a run-down New York apartment. When Miranda's best friend, Sal, gets punched by another boy for no apparent reason, Sal all of the sudden ends his friendship with Miranda. Then Miranda starts getting strange notes. The anonymous writer says he's coming to save her friend's life and his own, and he needs Miranda to write a letter for him. The notes frighten Miranda, partly because they correctly predict future events, such as the date her mom appears as a contestant on "$20,000 Pyramid." Miranda develops new friendships with Marcus, the boy who punched Sal. Seeing a copy of A Wrinkle in Time that Miranda always carries, Marcus provides commentary on the book. As they discuss the plausibility of time travel, Miranda realizes Marcus isn't mean, but he is extremely intelligent. On her way home one day, Miranda sees Sal running from Marcus. Sal runs into traffic and is nearly hit. The laughing man kicks Sal out of the way and dies in his place. She finally realizes the laughing man, who is actually Marcus as an old man, sent her the notes. He has come back from the future to save Sal's life. Miranda's job is to write a letter to present-day Marcus, explaining the events that will transpire and reminding him to return to the past when he discovers how to travel through time.

This book has a well described setting throughout the entire book. The apartment that Miranda lives in is described well, along with the area that she lives in. The author describes the events that happen in the book well also, such as the events that are going to happen in the letters that are written. All of the places that Miranda goes are described with great detail so the reader knows what is happening and where. The characters are given their own personalities and are described well throughout the whole book. Miranda is made out to be independent, but once she starts receving the letters, she becomes quite scared. One theme of the book is friendship. Miranda and Sal are best friends until Sal suddenly abandons her. Friendship also appears when Miranda makes friends with Marcus and realizes he isn't that bad after all. In the end, Marcus actually saves Sal, even though Sal thought Marcus bullied him.

This book was very good and had a mysterious element to it. I think that the twist at the end of the book was very unexpected and was thought out well. I could read this book to my students and have them make a top 5 list of things that they would do if they could go back in time.
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