Saturday, December 26, 2009

Review: When You Reach Me

Summary: 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. -- Wendy Lamb Books

If you haven't read WHEN YOU REACH ME by Rebecca Stead, then you are definitely missing out on a fantastic middle grade book! The reviews have been overwhelmingly positive, and the book has already been awarded as the 2009 winner of: Kid's Indie Next List Inspired Recommendations for Kids from Indie Booksellers, New York Times Notable Book, Kirkus Reviews Best Children’s Books, Publishers Weekly Best Children's Book of the Year, School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, Booklist Children's Editors' Choice, Horn Book Fanfare, National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA) Gold Award, Parents' Choice Gold Award, and Book Links Lasting Connection. Whew -- that's a lot of praise, and it's all well deserved.

I actually read this book back in August when I first received it. I was so excited to get my hands on a copy, but for some reason, I didn't ever sit down and write a review. I think I enjoyed the book so much that I didn't know how to articulate my feelings. Boy am I kicking myself now. Four months later the book is no longer fresh in my mind, but I can say that it has remained in my thoughts the entire time. I think that is perhaps the most powerful statement I can make about this book!

I am having a hard time describing this book, because I know I can't do it justice! I have a feeling that this book is going to mean different things to different readers. I can't decide what I enjoyed more about this book -- the character development or the mystery aspect. I absolutely adored Miranda, and she is one of those characters that just stays with you. I think children are going to not only love her, but they are also going to like putting together the pieces of the puzzle in this story. As for me, I especially appreciated how the story unfolded and how the author brought everything together by the end of the novel.

I only had one regret when I read this story. I wish I were more familiar with the novel A WRINKLE IN TIME. There were many tie-ins and references to the classic novel, and I think I might have appreciated the book even more if I was actually "getting" all of them! I definitely intend to read A WRINKLE IN TIME for The Shelf Discovery Challenge, so it's possible that I will re-read WHEN YOU REACH ME at that time.

I would absolutely love for our mother-daughter book club to read this novel together. I think both moms and girls alike would love the book. There is a little bit of everything in this story -- mystery, fantasy, and adventure; and I also consider it a coming-of-age story (which if you read are familiar with my blog, you know I love those types of books.) There is a great deal to discuss from the mystery/fantasy angle as well as the character development.

If you can't tell, I highly recommend WHEN YOU REACH ME for both middle graders as well as adults! It's a beautifully written story that is guaranteed to keep you hooked from the first few pages.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a signed ARC of this novel.


Beth F said...

Wow! Sounds intense! I read Wrinkle in Time but it was so long ago, I wonder if I would get the tie-ins.

bermudaonion said...

This book does sound good, but I'd probably need to re-read A Wrinkle in Time in order to get the references. It's been years since I read that one.

Sandy Nawrot said...

I'm always on the lookout for good books that my daughter and I can read together. I'll have to remember this one. I did just read A Wrinkle in Time for Shelf Discovery, and really didn't like it much. Still, I don't think that would have any bearing on this book.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

This sounds really good! But I have not read A Wrinkle in Time.

Anna said...

I'll have to keep this one in mind when I'm looking for another book to share with The Girl. I really should read "A Wrinkle in Time" at some point, too. I can't believe I've never read it!

Diary of an Eccentric

Stephanie said...

I loved A Wrinkle in Time when I was a girl -- I will keep an eye out for this novel.

Unknown said...

Great review! I need to put Wrinkle in Time on my TBR list, along with When You Reach Me.