When You Reach Me - Rebecca Stead

I read the note over and over. But I have to tell you that I had no idea what any of it meant, until later. And I have to tell you something else, too: I was scared. You scared the hell out of me.

Miranda Sinclair is a latchkey kid in New York City. She and her best friend (and neighbor) Sal walk to school together and are pretty much inseparable. But then there's a weird incident, and Sal shuts Miranda out of his life. About this same time, Miranda finds a few cryptic notes left for her: something about saving her friend's life, and about a letter she's supposed to write. Later notes hint about things that are going to happen later, which really throws Miranda for a loop.

A Wrinkle in Time is Miranda's favorite book, and bits of the plot are scattered throughout the story, when she explains the book to a friend, or argues with a kid about some aspects of time travel. This, really, was the only thing that really bothered me: despite the fact that she'd read the book "a hundred times," she seemed to have a lot of trouble grasping some of the implications of time travel. Specifically: if you travel somewhere and then return five minutes before you left, you'd see yourself arriving before you go. Sure, she's only a sixth-grader, but she's supposed to be a pretty sharp kid, and I found that part hard to believe.

Anyway, it's a pretty interesting story with Miranda trying to piece together the notes, while also navigating middle-school society: her friend Annemarie who also seems to like the same boy, rich-kid Julia who just seems to dislike her for no good reason. The writing is well-done and draws you in, though the foreshadowing gets a little heavy-handed in some spots. But as the book is intended for younger readers, maybe it's necessary to give some less-subtle hints earlier on.

I really liked the way Stead incorporated A Wrinkle in Time into the story, and I think anyone who enjoyed that will at least like the way it's referenced here. Also, even though the book talks about time travel, the meat of the book is here-and-now reality, not science fiction.

Fed to jonathan's brain | October 26, 2009 | Comments (0)


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