Friday, February 5, 2010
When You Reach Me
When You Reach Me
by Rebecca Stead
2010 Newbery Medal Award Winner
Four mysterious letters change Miranda's world forever.
By sixth grade, Miranda and her best friend, Sal, know how to navigate their New York City neighborhood. They know where it's safe to go, like the local grocery store, and they know whom to avoid, like the crazy guy on the corner.
But things start to unravel. Sal gets punched by a new kid for what seems like no reason, and he shuts Miranda out of his life. The apartment key that Miranda's mom keeps hidden for emergencies is stolen. And then Miranda finds a mysterious note scrawled on a tiny slip of paper:
I am coming to save your friend's life, and my own.
I must ask two favors. First, you must write me a letter.
The notes keep coming, and Miranda slowly realizes that whoever is leaving them knows all about her, including things that have not even happened yet. Each message brings her closer to believing that only she can prevent a tragic death. Until the final note makes her think she's too late.
This was a wonderful book! At first, I was hesitant to read it because I was not fond of the cover. After reading it though, I now appreciate the cover choice. Each element pictured (key, mailbox, shoe, book with note sticking out, etc.) plays an intrigal part in the story and readers can pick out where they fit into the story.
The setting is the late seventies, which also made me hesitate, but it turned out to be very relatable. The $20,000 Pyramid show plays a large role and Stead does an excellent job expaining it so readers can move beyond the foreignness of this game show to focus on the characters and their interactions.
The mystery develops in a beautiful way. Readers start to suspect things, but can only makes real connections as Miranda does. The truth is foreshadowed, but not revealed until the very end and I was pleased that I was unable to fully figure things out ahead of time.
The friendship and family relationships are fluid, realistic, and heartwarming. Miranda comes to understand the people around her much better as the story progresses and readers fully believe what is happening between the characters.
Highly recommended and fully deserving of its award.