When You Reach Me won the Newbery Medal to check it out even after Betsy Bird said way back in April, " ...this book is, pretty much, one of the best children's books I have ever read."
After FINALLY reading it, I have to agree with Ms. Bird and so many others around the blogosphere who love this book.
It's the late 70's, and sixth-grader Miranda spends much of her time helping her mother practice for The 25,000 Pyramid game show. Her best friend, Sal, has suddenly stopped talking to her, and to make her "normal" life even more complicated, she's started receiving mysterious messages that not only seem to predict the future but convince her that she must help prevent the deaths of her friend and the letter writer. But who are the letters coming from and can Miranda do what is asked of her?
To wrap this book up in a neat little bow is difficult because there is so much going on. Not only is it a mystery, but it's a coming of age novel where Miranda is forced to make new friends and step outside of her comfort zone for the first time in her life. It's not until the very end that you realize what exactly is going on, and you're tempted to read the book over again to look for the clues that are scattered throughout.
What is most impressive is that Rebecca Stead is able to weave the complex storyline together in a fairly short novel with beautifully-written prose. Miranda is a truly believable character who many kids will identify with. And the references to A Wrinkle in Time, the book Miranda has read over and over again, were delightful. Those familiar with A Wrinkle in Time will have fun finding the similarities between the book and what is going on in Miranda's life.
This is a book, I'd give to any tween who likes both realistic fiction and a bit of sci-fi and mystery. For the perfect gift for a young book lover, pair When You Reach Me with A Wrinkle in Time.
Reading level: 9-12 | Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books (2009) | ISBN: 978-0385737425 | Source: Purchased e-book
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