Thursday, April 1, 2010

When You Reach Me (2009)

Rebecca Stead's book received the 2010 Newbery Award and is quite different from winners of past years. Miranda is a 12-year old girl who lives in Manhattan with her single mother in the 70s. She has the intelligence and common sense that most latchkey kids get with the responsibility and freedom of getting around a big city on one's own. She is given a copy of Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time, and she ponders the complications and contradictions of time travel. In the meantime she deals with the typical sixth grade stuff like stuffy friends, bullies, homeless guys, and not so typical stuff like finding notes referring to events that have not yet happened.

On the Friday after Thanksgiving there was no school, but Mom still had to go to work. I'd been trying hard not to think about them, but I spent a good chunk of that morning worrying about your notes. I held one in each hand and read them over and over. The part about writing a letter wasn't too scary. The scary parts were "I'm coming to save your friend's life" and "Oh, by the way, where do you keep your keys?" and "P.S. Don't ever tell anyone about any of this." Seeing my name written out on the second note was also pretty creepy, because I was still trying to pretend the notes weren't really meant for me. And also where you wrote "I won't be myself when I reach you." I didn't like that part at all.

But of course, we the readers are looking at all of the characters trying to figure who it was that came back in time and which kid was the one to come back. It was refreshing to read a book about a young city dweller that wasn't involved in drugs and gangs but maneuvered around city life with confidence.

My rating for this book: ++++

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