“When You Reach Me” by Rebecca Stead
Summary from Goodreads:
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.
I don’t even know what to say about this book other than it really was lovely. I haven’t read the nominations for the Newbery Medal that year (2010) but this book definitely deserves the Medal. This is my pathetic attempt at reviewing the book.
I love how firmly rooted the story was in the everyday. It wasn’t boring. It was a nice snapshot of life in the late 70’s. When You Reach Me was a nice coming of age story. Sixth grade is a terrible time. Stead is able to really capture the awkwardness of that stage in life. Friendships evolve, you start to notice money and the lack of it, navigating school relationships, and all that other fun growing up stuff. Those “boring” moments make the story a bit special.
Then there’s the time travel. It was spoken of throughout the book but you never believed that it was actually real. The clues are starting to add up though. There’s no simple explanation for the notes. There’s still no physical proof of time travel but you want to believe. When the pieces are finally put together, the final reveal is really nice but sad.
Like all time travel books, the time line is a bit wibbly wobbly and odd to wrap your head around. I loved the mentions of A Wrinkle in Time. I’d definitely recommend reading them close together.
The bottom line? This book is a real winner.