WHEN YOU REACH ME by Rebecca Stead
Miranda has been best friends with Sal since they were toddlers. One day, as they walk home from school, a strange kid comes out of nowhere and punches Sal in the stomach and face. That is the day when Sal and Miranda’s friendship ends. Sal slams his door and he no longer has time for Miranda. Miranda needs new friends and discovers qualities in her classmates that she has previously overlooked. On her lonely walk home from school, she has time to observe the rough-looking kids hanging around and a homeless man she calls, ‘Laughing Man’ who sleeps under a mailbox. A Wrinkle In Time is Miranda’s favorite book and the notion of time travel that L’Engle explored becomes an important part of this book’s plot. Miranda receives tiny folded-up notes predicting what will happen as well as notes describing events that have already occurred. Who is sending her these notes? How does that person even know about things that happened only to Miranda and her seventh grade friends? These questions are tied to clues; a missing key, a shoe, and a note saying, “I am coming to save your friend’s life, and my own”. What does that note mean? Miranda is the observer and also the one who is being observed. The book’s ending remains mysterious even after all the clues are explained. The vagaries of friendship, the mother/daughter relationship, and kids trying to find their place in a classroom are thoughtfully explored. In this tender coming-of–age novel, readers see characters whose strengths, weaknesses, and concern for each other are realistically portrayed while the extra-sensory notion of time travel hangs over all. Stead has written a wonderful paean that updates concepts begun in A Wrinkle in Time.
Recommended- Lillian Hecker (Pelham)