Saturday, January 7, 2012

Book Review: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

"I've thought a lot about those veils. I wonder if, every once in a while, someone is born with out one. Someone who sees the big stuff all the time. Like maybe you."

Published by Yearling 2009
Fiction for ages 8-12

Miranda age 12, lives with her mom in New York City. They live in a small apartment, living on meager pay. Miranda's mother is a paralegal. Her mother's boyfriend is Richard. Richard is a nice guy, always eager to be loving and helpful to Miranda and her mother. Miranda's mom is practicing to be a contestant on the $20,000 Pyramid Game Show. Miranda is savvy about her neighborhood: where to walk, who to talk to and who not to talk to, and always locks the apartment door. There is a strange person that Miranda names "the laughing man," she sees him often on the street corner and he makes strange comments to her, Miranda is puzzled. One day the apartment door is found unlocked when Miranda comes home from school. Miranda and her mom's extra apartment key is missing, as well as Richard's boots. Then strange notes arrive. These notes lead Miranda to believe that something bad is going to happen.

When You Reach Me is primarily focused on Miranda and her life living in New York City; which includes school, friends, and daily life during this period. Weaved in to When You Reach Me is the strange "laughing man" and his comments to Miranda while she is walking down her block. As the story progresses his significance increases. Miranda at 12 is coming in to an age of peer pressure, boyfriends, a developing body, an awareness or consciousness of her and her mothers life, and a maturity of the world around her. Miranda is a perceptive and bright girl. She is neither beautiful or undesirable, she is average in her appearance (or so she believes.) She is a character that can easily be related to by young girls. She is admirable in her relationship with her mom and her mom's boyfriend. Miranda has a growing consciousness of her environment, yet she does not let that change her personality, instead she "rises to her abilities."

When I first began reading When You Read Me I was not sure I'd like this book. It did seem to be going in one direction. About midway through the book I realized I'd been wrong, instead the book began to peer in to another direction. That direction was a twist, a pleasant surprise.
I do like Miranda's character. I do like her quirky mom. I especially liked it that this story did not morph in to a dysfunctional type home-life.
Over-all I really liked this book and will be passing it on to my granddaughter!

Winner of John Newbery Award 2010

John Newbery Award Page:

Authors site:

Link @ Amazon:
Paperback $6.99
Kindle $6.99

Blissful Reading!

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