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review: “when you reach me” October 7, 2009

Posted by Katie in reviews.
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When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead.
Wendy Lamb Books // Hardcover // 197 pages.
Reviewed from purchased copy.

In 1978 New York, sixth-grader Miranda is no strange to science-fiction and mysteries. After all, her favorite book is Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time. But it’s different when the mystery is in her real life. Miranda begins to receive notes, notes that promise to save her friend’s life if she follows directions. Baffled by the notes, Miranda tries to make sense of them while dealing with typical sixth grade friendship and family issues. But will she figure things out in time?

I’m going to come out and say it right now — this is my pick for the Newberry. This book is everything that I want literature for children and young adults to be. Really, truly a perfect book.

Miranda is a relatable character, one that tweens will be able to see themselves in despite the time difference. Her world is fleshed out and each character has moments where their personality shines through brilliantly. Her friends, her family, even the neighborhood becomes part of the story.

The softly-building mystery is fantastic. I felt like all the questions that I had kept me reading, but didn’t rush me. I didn’t mind taking this journey with Miranda, at her pace. (Sometimes I do mind and just want to know what happens!) The mystery is beautifully blended into the story — there are clues from the beginning for readers who want to solve the mystery themselves.

I do have one concern about this book which I think hampers it significantly and that’s the cover. I don’t normally comment on the cover because it isn’t the result of the author’s work, but this cover is pretty bad. It makes sense once you read the book, but it doesn’t help the sell. I’ve been telling tweens/teens to read it with A Wrinkle In Time (required reading at our school district) and a lot of them are finding it that way.

Add it to your collections now…or wait until it’s announced as the Newberry.

SWAN catalog
Rebecca Stead




1. sarah h. - October 7, 2009

I agree completely. This will totally be the Newberry. I would say it’s one of the best books I’ve read all year. Definitley the best kid’s book. So amazing.
You are right, the cover is crap. Hopefully they will fix it for the paperback!

2. Belle - October 7, 2009

I have this one in my TBR – I’ve read such great reviews of it, and I’m looking forward to getting to it. I LOVE that A Wrinkle in Time is required reading in your school district! It was one of my absolute favourites as a child.

3. Courtney Sheinmel - October 10, 2009

I LOVED this book, too!

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