When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

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When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Category: Teens
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Delightful riff on A Wrinkle In Time by Madeline L'Engle that deservedly won the Newbery Medal. Easy to read, it's about time travel, friendship, and redemption - age old themes, but we never tire of their retelling.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 208 Date: January 2011
Publisher: Andersen
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1849392129

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Miranda has quite a bit going on in her life. Since her best friend Sal was punched on the street for no reason, he's been distant, shutting Miranda out of his life. This loss leaves Miranda somewhat adrift, as she and Sal have been inseparable since they were at day care together. So she strikes up a friendship with Annemarie, but that involves coming between Annemarie and the stuck-up Julia. And then Colin joins the group, which adds yet more complications - Miranda likes Colin, but she's worried he might like Annemarie.

So far, so sixth-grade good. We all remember the difficulties of childhood friendships - who's who in the pecking order, who's left out in the cold. But there are other things afoot in Miranda's life. There's Marcus, the boy who punched Sal, but who isn't the violent type at all. He's a science and maths geek who thinks about time travel and notices that Miranda's favourite book is A Wrinkle In Time by Madeline L'Engle. So why would he punch someone for no reason? There's Miranda's mother, who won't give her boyfriend a key to their apartment, even though Miranda wouldn't mind, and who is about to appear on a popular TV game show to try and win $20,000. There's the laughing man, an itinerant who hangs around outside Miranda's apartment building, practising kung-fu kicks and chanting bookbag pocketshoe over and over and over.

And if that isn't enough, there are the notes. Mysterious notes left for Miranda that accurately predict the future...

When You Reach Me is a combination of kitchen sink drama, mystery puzzle and science fiction: how is the conflict with Sal resolved? Who is the laughing man? How could time travel work? These three strands are so cleverly worked through, with the realistic coming-of-age story uppermost your mind as you read. But - and it's difficult to explain without spoilers - after you've finished the book, the whole thing seem to unravel and remake itself into something completely new, but something that makes absolute sense. I'm in awe of this clever structure - there's not a hair out of place, the story reads like a dream, and the conclusion gives a great deal of pause for thought.

At one point, as she's struggling to get her head around Marcus's theories, Miranda says the end can't happen before the middle. This may not be true of time travel, but it's absolutely true of this gorgeous little book. It's about time travel, yes, but it's also about growing up, friendship, and redemption. These are age-old themes, but we never tire of their tellings.

My thanks to the good people at Andersen Press for sending the book.

Obviously, if they haven't read it already, they should seek out a copy of A Wrinkle In Time by Madeline L'Engle without delay. Time travel fans will also enjoy Tanglewreck by Jeanette Winterson and Gideon the Cutpurse by Linda Buckley-Archer.

Buy When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead at Amazon.com.


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