When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Audiobooks have been our saving grace as we drove 20 minutes to rehearsal four times a week. I was first introduced to this book by The Modern Mrs. Darcy and it caught my eye because A Wrinkle in Time is a major plot point. I’ve heard it made a good read aloud, and was excited to see the audiobook was available from our library.

Published: 2009

Genre: YA time travel fiction

Length: 199 pages

Setting: New York City, 1978

Summary: We follow sixth-grader Miranda as she tries to navigate life in NYC in 1978. She’s your typical latch-key kids whose mother is the secretary at a legal office. Her mom has a serious boyfriend, but she can’t decide if she should give him the key to her apartment. She’s also training to win the $20,000 Pyramid game show. Miranda’s best friend, Sal, live right below them, but suddenly, he doesn’t want to be friends anymore. So, she starts hanging out with Collin (who’s kind of cute) and Annemarie (who has epilepsy). She also starts receiving several mysterious nots that ask her to write a letter describing all the events so the writer could prevent the death of one of her friends. It’s not until the end that Miranda finally understands the cryptic messages in the notes and how her friend could be saved.

Final thoughts: This was a highly enjoyable story. There was a bit of a coming-of-age story hidden in the mystery of the source of the notes. The author was able to sneak in discussions of relationships and how to be a good friend without being too obvious about it. For example, Miranda had a classmate who hated asking to use the bathroom and would always wait too long to ask. Miranda wouldn’t tease her like some of the other girls, but she also didn’t help her. We see reconciliation with another girl, and growth in the relationship with Sal. There’s also a bit of discussion of time travel, centered around Miranda’s favorite book, A Wrinkle in Time (which we’ve convinced Miss Adventure she needs to read), but the science-fictional aspect of the story is minimal.  The ending is so sweet, when Miranda finally understand the time travel and who the laughing man is.

On a technical note, I loved the chapter names. It took us a while to realize most of the chapters are named in the style of the final round of the $20,000 Pyramid. Made me wish we had a hard copy so I could go back and look at them again.

Awards won: Newbery Award in 2010

Reading challenges fulfilled: #78 in my Maybe 100 This Year Challenge

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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