Paul's Reviews > When You Reach Me

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
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's review
Sep 28, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: young-adult, science-fiction, four-star-plus

Good YA science fiction is hard to find. Thanks to a Goodreads friend I found this little book, devoured it in a day, and felt satisfied all over. What an absolutely great story! Minus the science fiction element, When You Reach Me could probably stand on its own as a YA novel about turning 12 and starting to grow up in a big city in the 1970s. With the science fiction element, it is also a charming and thoughtful tribute to Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time, a great favorite of young readers (and many adults).

Good YA literature is so pure ... I don't mean sexually pure, though that is a characteristic trend ... I mean in terms of telling a pure story without a depressing load of "adult" distractions. Most of the protagonists in YA literature are old enough to have begun thinking about sex, and that is beginning to happen with the girls and boys in this story, but mostly their concerns are about friendship and trying to understand the world around them. I'm in my middle 60s, and I still spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about friendship and the world around me, so I don't mind reading good YA literature, not one bit. I'll happily put aside my alcoholic crooked cops and their cheating wives for a YA fiction break, and I emerge from those breaks feeling quite rejuvenated. Yes, that is the right word. Young again.

Rebecca Stead totally pulls it of with this great story. It seems almost too simple and pedestrian at first, but it builds quickly and I could not bear to stop reading, even for a minute. Parts of the story reminded me of Jonathan Safran Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, in that much of it deals with a precocious 12-year-old latchkey kid who pretty much has the run of New York City. And then the science fiction begins to make itself subtly known ... I so want to talk about that part, but if I did I'd spoil the book for you.

A wonderful, wonderful book. I'm glad I read it as an adult. I wish it had been around for me to read when I was much younger.
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message 1: by Lea (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lea I'm so happy you liked it! I think this would have been my favorite book, if it had been published when I was younger.

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