Saturday, January 18, 2014

When You Reach Me

by Rebecca Stead
published: Wendy Lamb Books, 2009
pages: 199

Miranda knows the streets of her Manhattan neighborhood even though she's only in sixth grade.  Her world is full of safe places and people to avoid, like the laughing man on the corner.  She has it all figured out, until one day her life starts to unravel.  Her best friend gets punched by a stranger and begins to shut her out.  She discovers a note written on a tiny piece of paper warning her and asking her for help.  The notes keep coming and Miranda starts to realize that whoever is leaving them knows all about her and actually needs her help.  She has to make a decision whether or not to help the mysterious letter writer, but what will she choose and will she make her choice too late.

Even though I guessed the plot-twist early on in the story, I enjoyed it no less than I would have otherwise.  I thought it was cute and interesting and very creative.  The fact that Miranda is narrating the letter she won't write to a mysterious person is also incredibly intriguing.  I really liked that everything about this story kept me wanting to know more, to understand where the story was going and why Miranda was telling the story in the first place and to who she was or wasn't telling the story.  I had all these questions and more, and they were all answered, but I had to wait patiently for the answers.

I also really enjoyed that the titles of each chapter were categories that could have shown up in Pyramid, the game show.  I thought it was a creative way to tie in a couple unlikely aspects of this book.

I loved learning about the characters from Miranda's point of view. She had a very clever way of describing people and explaining what thought was weird. For example, why Sal wouldn't talk to her anymore and why Colin started hanging out with her and another friend a lot.  All of her thoughts and feelings were very reminiscent of a twelve year old.  The aging of the characters was excellent, I really thought a twelve year old was talking to me.

It's no wonder that Rebecca Stead received the 2010 Newberry award for this book.  She knocked it out of the park.  I look forward to checking out more of her work, that's for sure.

Stars: 5/5


"When all the side walk characters from Miranda's Manhattan world converge amid mind-blowing revelations and cunning details, teen readers will circle back to the beginning and say, ""
     -- Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Closing revelations are startling and satisfying but quietly made, their reverberations giving plenty of impetus for the reader to go back to the beginning and catch what was missed."
      --The Horn Book magazine, starred review

"This unusual, thought-provoking mystery will appeal to several types of readers."
     --School Library Journal, starred review

This is an Eclectic Reader 2014 Challenge book!


  1. Congrats on getting a start on the Eclectic Reader Challenge and I'm glad you enjoyed your choice!

    Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out

  2. This is a great time slip story for young readers. You might like to look out for The Colour of White by Jaclyn Moriarty (teen/ya) which uses a similar device (letters) to communicate between the 2 main characters.