25 January, 2010

When You Reach Me - Review

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
Publication date: July 14, 2009
ISBN 10/13: 0385737424 / 9780385737425

Category: Middle Grade Fiction
Format: Hardcover
Keywords: Love, family, friendship, mystery, time travel, courage, identity

Find the synopsis on goodreads.com. 

How I found out about this book: I was flipping through the Ingram Kids' catalog (for you non-industry folks, Ingram is a big book wholesale distribution company) and the cover just jumped out at me. It was also touted as a Newbery contender, and guess what! It won! :)

Quickie: The moment I read the words, "It was a dark and stormy night," I was a goner. Miranda's favorite book was my favorite book at that age, too--all at once I knew we'd be friends. The story is surprising and uplifting--if you only read one "children's" book this year, read this. You'll come back to it again and again.

For more details, click on "Read More"

My review: I had really high expectations for this book, and when I finally read it (the day after it won the Newbery Medal) it still blew me away. Well-written, thought-provoking, surprising and endearing, this book touched every part of me. My head spun with the mystery as Miranda found notes in increasingly impossible places. I was tickled by her mom's obsession with winning the big jackpot on The $20,000 Pyramid and her hope that her celebrity partner won't be "as dumb as a bag of hair". The booklover in me thrilled at the references to Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time. The relationships and the characters themselves were so real, I felt like I could pick up the phone and invite them all to sleep over at my house.

Miranda's point of view is an interesting one. For a twelve-year-old she is already bright, clever and observant, yet as she struggles to unfold the mystery of the strange notes that seem to appear out of thin air, warning her that a friend of hers is about to die, she grows and blossoms even more. Miranda awakens to insights and ideas that even some adults struggle with: 
  • What do you do when there's a crazy babbling homeless person on the corner?
  • What do you do when a friend stops being your friend (for reasons you can't even guess at)?
  • Why does my mom dress like a twelve-year-old? And how can I ask her to change without getting myself grounded?
  • Is time travel possible? and if it is, how can I prove it?

I think this is one of those eye-opening, mind-expanding books, the kind that gives birth to new book lovers. One that will be assigned as summer reading to 6th-graders for years to come. I don't want to say too much more or I'll spoil the book for those who want to read it. Just read it! In fact, I really want to stop writing this review so I can go read it again.

Who should read this book: Everyone. Just, everyone.

Author photo taken from the Random House website.

When You Reach Me is Rebecca Stead's second novel.

Find the author at www.rebeccasteadbooks.com, on Twitter @rebstead

Shortlink to this review: http://bit.ly/whenureachme

Find this book on goodreads.com, listen to a snippet at audible.com, or buy it now! 


What do you think? Is this something you would read? If you've already read it, put in your two cents... (no spoilers, please!)


  1. I have had this on my TBR list forever. It sounds amazing. Thanks for the great review.

  2. I loved this. I first heard of it on the SLJ Fuse #8 Production blog, and waited patiently (and not-so-patiently) until it came out. I read it as soon as I could get my hands on it, and I was not disappointed. I loved the details, I loved the 'mystery,' I loved the way it made me want to read other books! I was thrilled when it won the Newbery.

  3. I loved this book - so glad it won the Newbery! I haven't seen it going out a lot, here - hopefully the Newbery will help with that, and I always love hand-selling a book to my teens.

  4. First time here and I just love the way you review books. :) Very creative!

    Looking forward to reading When You Reach Me. I love your comment on having them over for a sleep over. :D

  5. I'm adding at least a book a day now because of you.. *adds another*.

  6. Hey at least you can borrow from me! You'll be adding 2 today. I'm posting my Incarceron review later. Jane has my copy though.