Title: When You Reach Me
Author: Rebecca Stead
Pub. Date: July 2009
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
Genre: Science Fiction
Age Range: Middle Grade
Synopsis/Teaser: 12-year-old Miranda is more than a little worried when she starts finding anonymous notes addressed to herself in library books, coat pockets, and backpacks. The notes show her how a seemingly ordinary chain of events in her New York City neighborhood lead up to a totally unplausable ending- one that may altogether upset her views on how the world works.
Review: Can the genre “Science Fiction” accurately describe When You Reach Me? This book is a story about friendship, coming-of-age, love, culture in New York City in the 1970s, and…time travel. It might be called a tribute to Madeleine L’Engle, who’s masterpiece A Wrinkle In Time is referred to throughout the book. It might be called realistic fiction with a little fantastical twist. It could be called all or none of these things. Even having read and reviewed When You Reach Me, it is intangible. But Science Fiction is fine for now.
Everything about this book is perfect for middle graders- and teens like me- of all types. The characters are well described and so believable, they seem to walk off the pages. Excellent details of 1970s life make it possible to categorize When You Reach Me as historical fiction, as well.
I definitely wouldn’t say this book is a “rip-roaring adventure” or something similar, but the narrative is convincing enough to keep the pages turning to the very end. The only negative I can think of is just that- the book ends. But that, of course, is inevitable. All things must end at some point.
What else can I say? When You Reach Me is a masterpiece well deserving of the Newbury Medal it received.
Recommended for: Madeleine L’Engle devotees of all ages. When You Reach Me is also a good coming-of-age story for middle schoolers.
Overall Rating: 5/5 stars