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When You Reach Me

by Rebecca Stead

Published by Wendy Lamb Books / Random House, 2009
208 pages
ISBN: 978-0-385-73742-5

Ages 10 - 13

Rebecca Stead’s original and deftly accomplished work explores the significance of moments and the meaning of time. During the school year of 1978-1979, Miranda, a latch-key kid, navigates life between the apartment where she lives with her mother and her mother’s boyfriend and her sixth grade universe. An observant twelve-year-old, aware of the daily dangers in New York City, Miranda pays attention to the potential for things amiss in her surroundings—she avoids the crazy “Laughing Man” on the corner, carefully conceals her key and money, and creates back-up plans. However, she’s caught off-guard the day that her best friend and neighbor, Sal, is punched by a stranger on their walk home from school. Miranda puzzles over the incident on many levels, but is most perplexed by Sal’s sudden distance from her as a friend. Life goes on and Miranda develops new friends, gets a part-time job, and finds a surprising new person who appreciates her favorite book, A Wrinkle in Time as much as she. Though the novel focuses on the mundane details of Miranda’s everyday life, it does so with a keen element of anticipation. Miranda receives a mysterious note, meant for her or not, explaining: I am coming to save your friend’s life, and my own. First, you must write me a letter. While scared by the intention of the message initially, Miranda’s perceptive nature eventually deciphers the confusing communiqués. After completing the novel, readers will want to go right back to the beginning to absorb the conclusive meaning of When You Reach Me. CCBC categories: Fiction for Children.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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