Monday, August 01, 2011

REVIEW: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead just made me happy. I thought the premise of it sounded nice when I first heard of it, the mystery of it and this conflict between friends that seems to be at the heart of the novel. I knew that I wanted to read it eventually, even though it is aimed at a younger audience than I would normally read.

And right from the first page, as we introduced to our main character, Miranda, helping her mother to practice for a game show (the $20,000 Pyramid, which I grew up loving!) - I kind of fell in love with the book. Because I felt like I was Miranda when I was younger - a girl without many friends, who doesn't fit in well with the popular kids, who carries around her favourite book and reads and re-reads it. Rebecca Stead waited and waited until more of the storyline was revealed before telling the reader the name of Miranda's favourite book - and for good reason, as it is pretty central to the mystery, though I was desperate to know right from the beginning.

Instead, Miranda tells her story slowly, revelling in the details of her every day life. She describes her life in New York City in the 70s, walking home from school with her friend Sal. The book is so charmingly written, that every small detail and observation seems quite interesting. I think what I loved the most about When You Reach Me are the relationships that Miranda forms, from her best friend, Sal, to the new friends that she makes and to this great relationship that Miranda has with her working mom.

But it isn't long before strange things begin happening in Miranda's life. Sal is randomly punched in the street and he no longer speaks to Miranda. The spare key to her apartment goes missing; she starts receiving mysterious letters that make no sense to her. Who is sending the notes? There's a real sense of urgency and of a life-saving importance, but Miranda has no idea how to piece together the puzzle that joins her rather ordinary life with that of something rather extraordinary.

When You Reach Me is such an excellent novel, well written and entertaining. While it is obviously written as homage to a well-known classic, there is enough within its pages and in these memorable characters to capture the hearts of all readers. Highly recommended.


  1. I think I'm going to have to dig out my copy of this and give it a go.

  2. Sophie - I think it's great fun and that you'll really enjoy it :)

    Jenni - It really is!


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