Sixth grader Miranda and her best friend Sal seem to know everything about their New York City neighborhood. They are inseparable.
But one day that all changes. On the way home from school Sal is punched in the stomach by a kid for no reason at all. He rushes home and shuts Miranda out of his life.
Then the apartment key Miranda's mom keeps hidden is missing. Miranda finds a mystery note that tells her that someone is coming to save her friend's life. This mysterious person asks for her to write a letter.
More notes come, asking for more requests. Miranda doesn't know what to think. Then she gets a final note that makes her think she's too late.
When You Reach Me is a tale where fantasy, mystery, and science fiction are all mixed together to create one engaging story. It's also a coming of age story where Miranda struggles to find her place minus her friend. I enjoyed this story and wondered who in the future was writing those notes. Subtle hints are woven throughout and if you're not careful you might miss them.
I liked how Stead shows 1978 in such a way that it feels natural and not forced. Miranda is a likable character who struggles with Sal's turning his back on her to trying to make new friends. The whole what if scenario of time travel is interesting. Marcus is another character that isn't the cliche one dimensional misunderstand boy. Stead does a great job showing us how different people in one community are linked not only now but in the future. The science fiction part--time travel--doesn't bog down the story.
Sure to be a classic. I recommend When You Reach Me for both school and home libraries.