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Book Club Picks > JANUARY 2011: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

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message 1: by Novel Tea Book Club (last edited Jan 14, 2011 06:45PM) (new)

Novel Tea Book Club  (NovelTeaBookClubModerator) | 38 comments Mod
The NTBC book choice for JANUARY 2011 was:

When You Reach Me
by Rebecca Stead

The young adult novel When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead was a moderate success with the Novel Tea Book Club.

We found this book to be a pleasant, easy, and light read. We enjoyed seeing a female character portrayed in such a positive manner. The novel breaks from the usual girl as "victim who needs to be saved" formula and shows a not so perfect young woman that is able to figure things out for herself and survive the journey.

The one theme this book addresses brilliantly is friendship. The novel examined how to hold on to old friendships without suffocating them, the benefit of new friendships, and redemption in second chances.

When You Reach Me was also a good introduction for the young adult reader to the benefits (time travel for example) of math, science, and physics.

The writing in this novel was good, but seemed a bit drawn out and disorganized at times. A number of the clues in the book were placed at odd intervals making for periods of waiting for something interesting to occur.

Although this book is a great introduction to the 1962 children's novel A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle it also draws too heavily from it. The story is too similar to L'Engle's work and may not have been able to stand on its own.

Although this is not a bad novel, we probably would not recommend this novel for an adult book group. When You Reach Me is a nice read, but it did not bring about much discussion or excitement.

Our rating: 3 out of 5 stars

This remarkable novel holds a fantastic puzzle at its heart.
By sixth grade, Miranda and her best friend, Sal, know how to navigate their New York City neighborhood. They know where it's safe to go, and they know who to avoid. Like the crazy guy on the corner.

But things start to unravel. Sal gets punched by a kid on the street for what seems like no reason, and he shuts Miranda out of his life. The apartment key that Miranda's mom keeps hidden for emergencies is stolen. And then a mysterious note arrives, scrawled on a tiny slip of paper. The notes keep coming, and Miranda slowly realizes that whoever is leaving them knows things no one should know. Each message brings her closer to believing that only she can prevent a tragic death. Until the final note makes her think she's too late.

message 2: by Kokeshi (last edited Jan 11, 2011 01:46PM) (new)

Kokeshi | 48 comments Rebecca Stead (b. January 16, 1968) is an American author who writes books for children and young adults.

She was born and raised in New York, NY. She enjoyed her elementary school years and remembers fondly the freedom to explore books.

She attended Vassar College and received her bachelor's degree in 1989.

Stead enjoyed writing as a child, but as she grew older she felt it was 'impractical' and became a lawyer instead. After years as a public defender she returned to writing after the birth of her two children. On her website she credits her son with inspiring her to write a children's novel, but not in the way one would expect. For years she had collected story ideas and short stories on a laptop, which the child pushed off a table, destroying it and losing all her 'serious' writing. As a way to lighten her mood she began again with something light-hearted. The creation of her first novel, First Light, followed.

Stead won the 2010 Newbery Medal, considered to be one of the most prestigious award in children's literature, for When You Reach Me.

Rebecca Stead is married to attorney Sean O'Brien and has two sons. She and her family live on the upper west side of Manhattan.

message 3: by Kokeshi (last edited Jan 11, 2011 01:49PM) (new)

Kokeshi | 48 comments When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

When You Reach Me is a Newbery Medal-winning science fiction and mystery novel by Rebecca Stead first published in 2009. It takes place in the Upper West Side in New York City during 1979 and follows the protagonist Miranda. She receives a strange note asking her to record future events and the location of her spare key. As the novel progresses Miranda receives three more notes with more requests. The novel contains three storylines—the appearance of Miranda's mom on The $20,000 Pyramid, Miranda's best friend Sal suddenly not talking with Miranda, and the appearance of a laughing man. At the novel's conclusion, all three plot lines combine to reveal that the laughing man is Miranda's friend Marcus who has come from the future to save Sal from an early death. Time travel, independence, redemption and friendship are central themes in the novel. Stead wanted to impart how she viewed time travel, as a way to make it be true rather than change it. She also hoped to show her children what New York was like in her childhood and the independence that modern children no longer have.

When You Reach Me was inspired by a newspaper article about a man suffering from amnesia. Under hypnosis, the man revealed that he had a wife named Penny and three kids lost in a car accident. He reunited with Penny, but Penny revealed that they were not married and had no children. Stead wondered if the man had traveled back in time to save the life of his children and wife, but lost his memory in the process. Stead then began to tie parts of her childhood and her favorite book, A Wrinkle in Time, into the story. After completing much of the novel, Stead gave the draft to her editor, Wendy Lamb, who liked it. They expanded on the initial concepts and published When You Reach Me on July 14, 2009, under an imprint of Random House, Wendy Lamb Books. Critics generally praised the book, its realistic setting and the author's deft handling of small details. The novel has attained the bestseller lists of The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and USA Today. Aside from receiving the 2010 Newbery Medal, When You Reach Me also garnered several Best Book of the Year awards.

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