Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Review - When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

When You Reach Me
Rebecca Stead
Wendy Lamb Books
197 pgs.
2.5 hrs.

We meet Miranda who is trying to figure things out: what's going on between her and Sal? What's going on between Richard and Mom? Does she need to get new friends? Where did this note come from and how did they know? That's the main thing Miranda wants to unravel - who sent the note and how did they know these things would happen? She doesn't want to think about the implications though and, of course, the more you don't want to think about something, the more you do!

Miranda is trying to help her mom get on The $20,000 Pyramid game show. Her mom is a para-legal for a small office and she dreams of being a lawyer. She holds monthly tenant meeting and writes letters to the proper people about all the problems "But nothing ever changes." (13)
She pushes away her veil when she's trying to focus and "can see the world as it really is, just for those few seconds before it settles down again...see all the beauty, and cruelty and sadness, and love." (71)

Sal and Miranda are best friends, until one day they aren't. And Miranda thinks she knows why but she doesn't understand it.

"Do you even want to be friends at all?...he glared at his feet and said no..." (33)

Marcus is an enigma. Is he smarter than "genius kids like Jay Stringer..." (48) or is he a bully? Can he be both? Why does he notice Miranda sometimes but act like he doesn't at other times? Common sense says stay away from him but Marcus quotes "common sense is just habit of thought. It's how we're used to thinking about things..." (51)

When Sal left Miranda, she found Annemarie, who was left by Julia. Miranda likes hanging with Annemarie but Miranda might like someone who might like Annemarie and that makes Miranda a little mad. " that puddle of meanness....Maybe I couldn't stand for her to have so many people, and to be able to draw and to cut bread on top of that." (112)

And through all this meeting and breaking apart the notes keep coming. Little tiny bits of paper. Little tiny writing. How did they know? How could they know? And how did it all fit together?

The writing in this book was quietly beautiful. Little things that made me pause and think.
"'s simple to love's hard to know when you need to say it out loud." (149)
I have so many pages turned down. So many sentences surrounded by little dots (that's how I mark quotes).

The ending comes at just the right moment. Not too slow with you thinking it should already be over...not too fast and you wondering what you missed. I especially loved the last chapter: Parting Gifts. It makes you go back and look and speculate and wonder and go hmm.

I enjoyed this book. It was awesome. It's a realistic sci-fi type book. Stead (pronounced like dead, fed) wove elements from A Wrinkle in Time into the book so while you are reading and thinking about Miranda, other parts of your brain are trying to tie the pieces of that book into this book. Course, her sentences don't run-on like mine! I enjoyed getting to know the characters and understanding why they acted the way they did - except for Louisa, Sal's mom, still don't know her. But all in all, this is definitely 4 copies good. Book club good even. It's a must read. And read again!

The Reading Zone - When You Reach Me
Literate Lives - When You Reach Me
A Year Of Reading - When You Reach Me

Rebecca Stead at Random House - Author Spotlight - great first line!


  1. I've had my eye on this book for awhile. It sounds amazing. Now I want to read it even more!

  2. Thanks for the review. It's always enjoyable to read a book written by an author who knows how to properly time the ending.

  3. Come on over to my blog and grab your award. =)


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