Friday, January 22, 2010

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

When You Reach Me won the Newbery award on Monday. On Wednesday evening I was fortunate enough to read this lovely and engrossing novel.
It's the 1970's and Miranda Sinclair is twelve, a single child of a single mother, living in NYC. When the book opens she is perplexed by her best friend Sal's abandonment of their friendship. However, it doesn't get her down for long and she quickly becomes friends with two classmates, Annemarie and Colin. Miranda's contentment is suddenly disrupted when she begins receiving mysterious notes from someone in the future, someone who predicts events in Miranda's life before they happen. While the reader tries to puzzle out who these notes are from, the plot moves along with Miranda's adventures. Throughout, she keeps her fears about the notes hidden, until an unexpected ending reveals all.
Miranda is a wonderful character; fearless yet cautious, respectful, but a tad rebellious, a normal girl who experiences an extraordinary event. The other characters in the novel are also wonderfully real and believable. There are many themes introduced in the book and there are lots of issues to discuss with any child who reads this. The chapters are short and it's written in a straightforward style, perfect for reluctant readers. The time travel aspect should interest readers who might not otherwise be enticed by this story. A true gem, this is fully deserving of the Newbery award.

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