Friday, May 25, 2012

Review(ish): When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

**I forgot the image when I first published, hence the update

Review(ish): When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
199 pages
Published by Wendy Lamb Books, 2009
Source: novel read for class

This is a book that I read for my Children’s Lit class this spring semester. It’s been a little bit since I read it, but I keep thinking about this story and wanted to share a little blurb about it here.

Goodreads description:
Four mysterious letters change Miranda’s world forever.

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, like the local grocery store, and they know whom to avoid, like the crazy guy on the corner.

But things start to unravel. Sal gets punched by a new kid 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 Miranda finds a mysterious note scrawled on a tiny slip of paper: 

I am coming to save your friend’s life, and my own.
I must ask two favors. First, you must write me a letter.

The notes keep coming, and Miranda slowly realizes that whoever is leaving them knows all about her, including things that have not even happened yet. 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.
My blurb:
When I was assigned to read this book for class, I was already reading another book for a different class and struggling to keep up in some of my other classes. I honestly thought this one just one book I would have to skim or not read altogether, which is not something I like doing. When my classmates began discussing the book in my next class, I really didn’t feel compelled to read it. They talked about time travel, and how the setting was only set on a three-block radius. Also, the main character’s name was Miranda, which for whatever reason I just thought sounded funny. Please don’t ask me why. It was silly, I know. However, I loved my professor’s choice of novels for all of the class, and I decided to just take a peek at the book. I ended up finishing it one sitting, which is uncommon for my hyperactive self.

When You Reach Me really embraces the life of the growing child. I think Stead was spot on when dealing with the struggles of children around the age of eleven. She showed the difficulty of making and keeping friends, she even discussed the relationships one builds with adults at that young age and how important they become. When reading, I remembered being that age and I completely sympathized with the characters. I even related with Miranda on a certain level in my current situation; through Miranda, Stead addresses the complexities of making new friends and understanding people who are different. Stead also addresses one’s self-consciousness of his or her class, and other complex issues such as racism. This book has so much going on it that makes it a worthwhile read for any age group, but it is especially comforting and challenging for children who can relate to Miranda and her friends.

Since it has been some time since I read this story, I will not be making this a detailed review. I just wanted to share this novel with anyone who is looking for something new to read. This book will NOT disappoint.

I would give this book a five out of five foxes. The plot and characters are almost real to me. And, like I said, I haven’t stopped thinking or talking about this story since I read it months and months ago. Oh! And did I mention this book won the John Newbery Medal for 2010? Way to go Rebecca Stead!

For those of you who have read it, I have an analytical question I would like to share with you. I did this for homework, but ended up writing a paper on it. Since I have written that paper, I don’t want to let the subject drop and would just love to discuss it further with anyone else who has read the story or plans too. Here is my question:
In Rebecca Stead’s novel When You Reach Me, how are cycles employed? The cycle of the key, first hidden in the hose, then stolen, then gifted to Richard parallels the relationship of Miranda and Sal, which was falling apart before Miranda even knew it, and then healed. What is the significance of this cycle and how do each of the characters mature from it? What does Stead say about cycles and things that had been lost? Where else are cycles found in the story? How are they different from each other? How are they similar to the cycle of the key? What do these similarities and differences argue about the stages of life?


  1. I read this book several months ago (got it from net galley) and really liked it. I really liked the time travelling element to it ... Those are some great questions you're asking ... but it's been a little too long for me to really provide an intelligent answer.

    [Books and Blossoms]

  2. I thought the time traveling element was crucial to the success of this book. I have difficulty understanding the mechanics of it, but I really liked how Stead leaked it throughout the novel to create the miraculous, epiphany ending.


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