Book Review: When You Reach Me

Ruby Lisanti
Bibliographic Information (author, title, publisher, copyright date, number of pages,
and ISBN number):
When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead.
Wendy Lamb Books, 2009. 208 pages, ISBN: 9780385906647.
Selection Sources (list at least three that recommend your book):
Best Books For Children, (9th edition) pg. 413 (#8329)
Children’s Core Collection, (20th edition) pg. 1144
The Newbery and Caldecott Awards: A Guide to the Medal and Honor
Books, (2011 edition) pg. 22
Reading Level: Lexile: 750
Plot Synopsis (<100 words):
Twelve-year-old Miranda spends her time trying to manage middle school and new
friendships while coping with her best friend abandoning her for no apparent reason,
helping her mom practice to be on a game show, The $20,000 Pyramid, navigating the
streets and homeless people of New York, and rereading her favorite book: Madeleine
E’ngle’s A Wrinkle in Time. Life is normal, until Miranda receives a series of cryptic
notes proclaiming to want to save her life, and warn her about things that haven’t even
happened yet. Miranda slowly unfolds the mystery buried in the messages, and learns that
she prevents a tragic death by following the instructions in the notes, and that time travel
really is possible.
Critical Review (<150 words) (including quotes from your review sources):
Although considerably character-driven, the storyline is also complex and jam-packed,
and drives this novel Publishers Weekly notes is “a work of science fiction grounded in
the nitty-gritty of Manhattan life in the 1970s.” The plot may be harder for less mature
readers to follow, due to “the author play[ing] with the construct of time throughout the
novel, using letters that foretell the future, manipulating tense, and framing the entire
novel as a second-person narrative in which Miranda is addressing the writer of the
letters,” (Children’s Literature), but those without advanced reading skills will appreciate
the undemanding prose, relatable situations and authentic relationship dynamics. The
novel is not as deeply steeped in science fiction as the majority of its counterparts,
making this an ideal text for those hesitant about the genre. This book, with its
underlying homage to A Wrinkle in Time, and its “baffling, heart-pounding conclusion,”
(Kirkus) will delight readers of all kinds.
Review Sources (list at least two):
 Publishers Weekly, June 22: 2009
 Children’s Literature, pg. 199: 2009
 Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2009. Vol. 77, No. 11