When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
I wish this novel had been written when I was about ten. I’d have loved it. I loved it now but I’d have loved it so much more back then. It has everything in it – endearing characters, comedy, friendship, mystery, shock, surprises, twists and turns and an intriguing title. It's probably one of my favourite children's books I've read in a long time. Think clever and endearing Time Traveler's Wife for children....
When You Reach Me is set in New York in 1979. It starts off with Miranda having kept a box of notes from ‘you’ and we find out that her single mom (with the perfect boyfriend except for his one-shorter-than-the-other leg) is practising for a TV show competition. For a while, this seems to be the main focus of the story but then something awful happens to Miranda’s friend Sal and we realise that this novel is even more of a mystery than it seemed. Just like Miranda, we’re in the dark about so much but we both know that April 27, 1979 is the key date to everything.
Basically, Miranda keeps finding notes from ‘you’, a friend has to be saved (oh but who is it?!), Miranda’s friendships are becoming complicated and even falling apart, and some things are getting lost. All your questions will be gloriously answered by the end but, when you reach the end, don’t be surprised if you’re still trying to figure out some of the scientifically mind-bending possibilities...or if you keep looking overly curiously at mailboxes...or if you suddenly have the urge to visit New York (Rebecca Stead makes it sound somewhere like the best place for home). Genre-wise, this is a mix of contemporary realism, mystery and science-fiction. This novel is full of wonderment, suspense, surprise and tenderness.
Highly, highly recommended.
A little note: I haven’t read it, but I think Rebecca Stead thinks this novel will appeal to fans of Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time as When You Reach Me makes many references to it.
Publication details: Andersen Press, 2011, London, paperback (first published in USA, 2009)This copy: ours