Reviews for When You Reach Me
Booklist Reviews 2009 June #1
*Starred Review* If this book makes your head hurt, you're not alone. Sixth-grader Miranda admits that the events she relates make her head hurt, too. Time travel will do that to you. The story takes place in 1979, though time frames, as readers learn, are relative. Miranda and Sal have been best friends since way before that. They both live in a tired Manhattan apartment building and walk home together from school. One day everything changes. Sal is kicked and punched by a schoolmate and afterward barely acknowledges Miranda. Which leaves her to make new friends, even as she continues to reread her ratty copy of A Wrinkle in Time and tutor her mother for a chance to compete on The $20,000 Pyramid. She also ponders a puzzling, even alarming series of events that begins with a note: "I am coming to save your friend's life, and my own . . . you must write me a letter." Miranda's first-person narrative is the letter she is sending to the future. Or is it the past? It's hard to know if the key events ultimately make sense (head hurting!), and it seems the whys, if not the hows, of a pivotal character's actions are not truly explained. Yet everything else is quite wonderful. The '70s New York setting is an honest reverberation of the era; the mental gymnastics required of readers are invigorating; and the characters, children and adults, are honest bits of humanity no matter in what place or time their souls rest. Just as Miranda rereads L'Engle, children will return to this. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2010 Spring
Sixth grader Miranda's life is an ordinary round of family and school. But when she starts receiving anonymous notes that seem to foretell the future, it's clear that all is not as it seems. The story's revelations are startling and satisfying but quietly made. Their reverberations give plenty of impetus for readers to go back and catch what was missed. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2009 #4
The first real indication that this book is going to get deeply, seductively weird is when broody classmate Marcus engages the heroine, Miranda, in a discussion about a flaw in the logic of A Wrinkle in Time: "So if they had gotten home five minutes before they left, like those ladies promised they would, then they would have seen themselves get back. Before they left." Miranda's life is an ordinary round of family and school, the first characterized by a pretty strong relationship with her mother and Mom's good-guy boyfriend, the second by ever-shifting (and perceptively limned) alliances in her sixth-grade class. But when her best friend is bizarrely punched by another boy on the street, and when she starts receiving anonymous notes that seem to foretell the future, it's clear that all is not as it seems. The mystery provides a thread that manages, just, to keep the plot's several elements together, and the closely observed relationships among the characters make the mystery matter. Closing revelations are startling and satisfying but quietly made, their reverberations giving plenty of impetus for the reader to go back to the beginning and catch what was missed. Copyright 2009 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2009 June #1
When Miranda's best friend Sal gets punched by a strange kid, he abruptly stops speaking to her; then oddly prescient letters start arriving. They ask for her help, saying, "I'm coming to save your friend's life, and my own." Readers will immediately connect with Miranda's fluid first-person narration, a mix of Manhattan street smarts and pre-teen innocence. She addresses the letter writer and recounts the weird events of her sixth-grade year, hoping to make sense of the crumpled notes. Miranda's crystalline picture of her urban landscape will resonate with city teens and intrigue suburban kids. As the letters keep coming, Miranda clings to her favorite book, A Wrinkle in Time, and discusses time travel with Marcus, the nice, nerdy boy who punched Sal. Keen readers will notice Stead toying with time from the start, as Miranda writes in the present about past events that will determine her future. Some might guess at the baffling, heart-pounding conclusion, but when all the sidewalk characters from Miranda's Manhattan world converge amid mind-blowing revelations and cunning details, teen readers will circle back to the beginning and say, "Wow...cool." (Fiction. 12 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Library Media Connection Reviews 2009 October
Miranda experiences a lot in sixth grade.áShe loses her best friend, her mom goes on a game show, she learns there is a dentistÆs office inside her school, and she enjoys her first job.áStead has written a story about a typical 12-year-old girl; although, it is set in the 1980s and there is some compelling mystery that the reader is hard-pressed to discover. The best parts of the story, though, are the characters.áThere is Miranda herself who is thoughtful and smart, but she doesnÆt think much of it. Marcus is a troubled boy but no one really seems to know him.áThere are best friends Julia and Annemarie, but their friendship is put to a serious test when Julia acts snobby once too often.áAnd, there is the mysterious writer of the notes that Miranda keeps finding.áThis well-written book is planned and executed to keep readers engaged until the very end. The authorÆs style is appealing because of her character development and clever plot vehicles.áThe topics are interesting and the sho t chapters keep the pace flowing quickly. Recommended.áLisa Hunt, Library Media Specialist, Apple Creek Elementary, Moore, Oklahoma ¬ 2009 Linworth Publishing, Inc.
School Library Journal Reviews 2009 July
Gr 5-8-Sixth-grader Miranda lives in 1978 New York City with her mother, and her life compass is Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time. When she receives a series of enigmatic notes that claim to want to save her life, she comes to believe that they are from someone who knows the future. Miranda spends considerable time observing a raving vagrant who her mother calls "the laughing man" and trying to find the connection between the notes and her everyday life. Discerning readers will realize the ties between Miranda's mystery and L'Engle's plot, but will enjoy hints of fantasy and descriptions of middle school dynamics. Stead's novel is as much about character as story. Miranda's voice rings true with its faltering attempts at maturity and observation. The story builds slowly, emerging naturally from a sturdy premise. As Miranda reminisces, the time sequencing is somewhat challenging, but in an intriguing way. The setting is consistently strong. The stores and even the streets-in Miranda's neighborhood act as physical entities and impact the plot in tangible ways. This unusual, thought-provoking mystery will appeal to several types of readers.-Caitlin Augusta, The Darien Library, CT [Page 93]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.