Book Review: When You Reach Me

When You Reach MeWhen You Reach MeBook Review: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

I picked up When You Reach MeBook Review: When You Reach Me because I’m trying to get caught up on all the Newbery winners and nominees, and it won for 2010. The start felt somewhat slow, and it had a much more deliberate pace than some of the other children’s/young adult books I’ve read lately.

That’s not a criticism, simply a comment. If you’ve gotten used to the rush-rush-action pace of a lot of kid lit lately, it feels slower and quieter. Once you get used to the pacing, it’s a lovely book, with engaging characters and thought-provoking themes and ideas.

There is a bit of a mystery in the story, although if you read the book for the mystery you’ll likely be disappointed. At least as an adult who has read a lot of mysteries, it’s fairly obvious and not the big stunning reveal it might have been if I’d read it as a child or teenager.

I loved the setting – 1979 New York ends up being familiar, but not exactly, and it would be even more unfamiliar to kids reading the book. The most striking difference is how independent the kids are – twelve year olds traversing the city by themselves, without the parental supervision that seems ubiquitous nowadays.

One of my favorite aspects of it was the role A Wrinkle in Time plays in the story. I read it for the first time last year, and while I didn’t love the story, I was glad I read it. I’m especially glad now, realizing how much I’d have missed from this book without the background from L’Engle’s tale.

I think it’d be a lot of fun to read this in conjunction with A Wrinkle in Time, and I’m kind of hoping our bookclub selection committee hasn’t made our kids book pick for the year – I’d love for them to consider this one, as I think it’s got a lot of depth and would be fun to discuss.

Highly recommended if you like children’s literature. And even if you don’t generally like children’s literature, I think this is a great one to possibly change your mind.

Publisher’s Description:
This remarkable novel holds a fantastic puzzle at its heart.

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, and they know who to avoid. Like the crazy guy on the corner.

But things start to unravel. Sal gets punched by a kid on the street 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 a mysterious note arrives, scrawled on a tiny slip of paper. The notes keep coming, and Miranda slowly realizes that whoever is leaving them knows things no one should know. 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.

Book Details

Title: When You Reach MeBook Review: When You Reach Me
Author: Rebecca Stead
Category: Juvenile Fiction / Historical / Science Fiction / Mystery
Length: 208 pages
My Rating: 4.5 Stars

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  1. I was trying to remember if A Wrinkle in Time is young kid suitable–I think I read it in 2nd grade but can’t remember. Do you think When You Reach Me would be OK for a 7 year old? Hannah loves mysteries.

    • I am never that confident of saying yes or no to books being suitable for specific ages, other than books that are clearly NOT suitable.

      I’ll send you an email with some more specifics about the book so you can see what you think of it for Hannah.

  2. I read When You Reach Me a year or so ago and really enjoyed it! Just last week I was at the library and saw her new(est)(?) book, Liar & Spy … I think I enjoyed that even more!

    • Oh, that makes me *very* happy to hear! I’ve got Liar & Spy on my TBR list, but I was trying to wait a few months before reading it.

  3. I had this book, but have not read it. Yeah, and I bought this book because Newberry ^^. Is this book about time traveling?


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