When You Reach Me

by Rebecca Stead

Rebecca Stead’s original and deftly accomplished work explores the significance... read more

Rebecca Stead’s original and deftly accomplished work explores the significance of moments and the meaning of time. During the 1978–79 school year, Miranda navigates life between the apartment where she lives and her sixth-grade universe. An observant twelve-year-old, aware of the daily dangers in New York City, Miranda pays attention to the potential for things amiss: She avoids the crazy Laughing Man on the corner, carefully conceals her key and money, and creates backup plans. However, she’s caught off-guard the day her best friend, Sal, is punched by a stranger on their walk home from school. Miranda puzzles over the incident on many levels, but is most perplexed by Sal’s sudden emotional distance. Life goes on, and Miranda develops new friends, gets a part-time job, and even finds a surprising new person who appreciates her favorite book, A Wrinkle in Time, as much as she. Although the novel focuses on the mundane details of Miranda’s everyday life, it does so with a keen element of anticipation. Then Miranda receives a mysterious note, meant for her or not, explaining, “I am coming to save your friend’s life, and my own. First, you must write me a letter.”At first she is frightened, but eventually, with astute perceptiveness, she deciphers its intent. After completing the novel, readers will want to go back to the beginning and start over to further marvel at its intricate crafting. (Ages 10–13)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2010

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