When You Reach Me

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When You Reach Me
Author(s)
Age Range
10+
Release Date
July 14, 2009
ISBN
0385737424
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Winner of the 2010 John Newbery Medal

Four mysterious letters change Miranda’s world forever.

By sixth grade, Miranda and her best friend, Sal, know how to navigate their New York City neighborhood. They know where it’s safe to go, like the local grocery store, and they know whom to avoid, like the crazy guy on the corner.

But things start to unravel. Sal gets punched by a new kid for what seems like no reason, and he shuts Miranda out of his life. The apartment key that Miranda’s mom keeps hidden for emergencies is stolen. And then Miranda finds a mysterious note scrawled on a tiny slip of paper:

I am coming to save your friend’s life, and my own.
I must ask two favors. First, you must write me a letter.

The notes keep coming, and Miranda slowly realizes that whoever is leaving them knows all about her, including things that have not even happened yet. Each message brings her closer to believing that only she can prevent a tragic death. Until the final note makes her think she’s too late.

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3 reviews

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Mix of fantasy and mystery
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
0.0
Ever wonder if time travel is possible? Maybe not now but in the future? And if you had the chance to save a friend's life, would you come back and try?

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.
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A Time Travel Tale
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4.0
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4.0
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0.0
Its 1978 and this is the story of Miranda. Shes addicted to A Wrinkle in Time, maybe because she doesnt know her father. Shes entranced by the thought of time travel. Her mother got picked for the $20,000 Pyramid TV game show and Miranda and Richard, her moms boyfriend, are constantly helping her get ready. Rambunctious boys hang out at the local garage that shes got to pass on the way to and from school. Some kid she doesnt know hits her life-long friend Sal for apparently no reason and now he wont talk to her. It turns out his name is Marcus and hes a nice guy&a little strange, but nice. Miranda makes a new friend in Annemarie, however Annemaries best friend is Julia. Miranda and Julia havent spoken to each other in years. Theres a crazy man who hangs out on her street, kicking up a storm at absolutely nothing. And theres a Fred Flintstone piggy bank. What else could you possibly want in a book and what else could possibly happen?

How about finding a letter in her library book which says:

M.

This is hard. Harder than I expected, even with your help. But I have been practicing, and my preparations go well. I am coming to save your friends life, and my own.

I ask two favors.

First, you must write me a letter.

Second, please remember to mention the location of your house key.

The trip is a difficult one. I will not be myself when I reach you.

What does this all mean? Read When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead if you want to find out the answer. Its a dandy book. The chapter headings are questions from the $20,000 Pyramid. The characters are great. The action is absorbing. I didnt want to put it down. Despite what I thought as I was reading it, it all comes together in the end, although you need to think about it. Im still thinking about it. Im not actually sure I get it, so maybe if you read it and understand it, you can explain it to me. However, it doesnt lessen my enjoyment of the book. Time will travel fast when you read When You Reach Me.
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Absolutely Amazing!
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5.0
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5.0
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0.0

Miranda and Sal have been best friends since they were
babies, but on the day Sal gets punched in the stomach everything changes.  Sal no longer wants to hang out and she cant
figure out why.  Now Miranda has lost
someone who felt like a part of her, and to make it worse she has to walk by
the crazy laughing man on the corner all by herself.  When Miranda was with Sal, she could deal
with the crazy guy and his muttering and kicking but alone hes just too
scary.  When Annemarie, another girl in
her class, loses her best friend she and Miranda become friends.  Annemarie isnt a replacement for Sal, but
shes close enough.



On top of losing Sal, Miranda starts finding strange notes
hidden in her things that warn her of an impending tragedy.  How does the note-writer know that Mirandas
mom will be chosen to appear on the tv show The $20,000 Pyramid, or what shell
get for Christmas?  And why does the
note-writer warn her not to share the notes with anyone else? 



Even though Miranda makes new friends, and finds that the
boy who punched Sal really isnt all that bad, she has to solve the mystery of the
notes on her own.  Can she do it before
tragedy strikes?



Rebecca Stead has created a beautifully written work in When You Reach Me.  Set in New York City in 1978, this book is a
mixture of mystery and coming-of-age tale. 
Mirandas feelings when she loses Sal's friendship are shown with a depth that makes
the heart ache.  The mystery swirling
around the notes is intricately developed and detailed.  At the very end everything comes together, and
then you may just want to turn back to the first page and read the story again.  When
You Reach Me
is a masterpiece, and I highly recommend it. 



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Time Traveling = Awesome
Overall rating 
 
5.0
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5.0
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N/A
In New York City in the late 1970s, twelve-year-old Miranda lives with her vibrant but sometimes childish and frustrated mother in a rundown apartment building in a lower class neighborhood. When Sal, her best friend since infancy, suddenly no longer wants to be friends with Miranda, new friends Annemarie, Colin and Marcus enter her life. At the same time, worrisome notes from a stranger are left for Miranda in odd places. The notes warn that the life of one of Miranda’s friends is in danger and state that the writer of the notes needs her help. Slowly, as the pieces of the mystery come together, Miranda also matures and learns more about the people around her.

The winner of the 2010 Newbery Medal, When You Reach Me contains an absorbing plot of mystery and time travel woven with friendship that captivates the reader. Students with cunning and eager minds will enjoy trying to unravel the mystery before the end of the book. Stead’s use of Miranda’s first person point of view is quirky and lively, and seeing the events unfold through Miranda’s eyes helps to guide the reader through what could be a complicated timeline of events. Young fans of energetic mysteries such as Ellen Raskin’s The Westing Game or sci-fi adventures like A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle will want to get their hands on Stead’s When You Reach Me. If your library has a collection for older elementary and younger middle school students, this is a book that you will want on your shelves.
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Making Time for Time Travel
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4.0
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4.0
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N/A
Who knew that it would be a twelve-year old girl in 1978 who figures out the nuances of time travel? That’s not to say she’s figures out how to actually travel time herself, but she at least discovers all of its little quirks. That’s just one of the many surprises readers are in store for in Rebecca Stead’s “When You Reach Me.”

“When You Reach Me” follows sixth grader Miranda as she details a story that she has been asked to tell from mysterious notes she is receiving from an unknown sender. At first it sounds like there’s potentially some creep who would be perfect for “To Catch a Predator” that is stalking the spunky girl. As events unfold, it seems that this mysterious sender knows an awful lot about events that will happen in the future. With the knowledge she has accrued from her favorite book “A Wrinkle in Time,” Miranda starts to think that maybe this mysterious note man has travelled back in time to stop a horrible event from happening.

The best part of Stead’s writing is that even though there is this ever-present potential for a big sci-fi twist, you are equally as invested in seeing how her characters will grow while wondering if time travel really does play a part in the whole story. Miranda has to deal with many grown-up themes, like racism, mental illness, the loss of a parent, the loss of a friend, and the differences between boys and girls, but she handles them all graciously without ever needing a time machine of her own to make time to learn this multitude of life lessons.
Good Points
Great protagonist.
Mysterious sci-fi twist that you're never sure will play out or not.
Heartwarming lessons for young and old readers.
Great homage to a classic piece of YA literature.
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Interesting...
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5.0
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5.0
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N/A
So, I wasn't expecting what I got when I finished the first chapter of this book. It's about time travel! I hadn't read anything about that before this book.
It was really slow for me, but I continued reading because I wanted to find out what these notes and clues were about.
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Slow, but good book
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4.0
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4.0
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4.0
I found this book to be slow, but I kept at it and just loved the ending. I figured it out about the same time as the main character.
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Slow book
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4.0
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Reader reviewed by Emily H.

I found this book to be slow, but I kept at it and just loved the ending. I figured it out about the same time as the main character. The twist is something that I didn't see coming, which made it all the better. I think this would be a great book to re-read now that I know what happens. 
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When You Reach Me
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5.0
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5.0
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0.0
Reader reviewed by Chase

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead is a phenomenal book! It is about a girl that gets strange letters and she is determined to find out who they are coming from. The letters that she gets say really strange things, for example one said, "A Black Boot under a mailbox." This story takes place in a cold winter in New York City. Some important characters are "The Crazy Guy by the corner,"Miranda, and her best friend Sal who is a boy. They both are in sixth grade. Rebecca Stead did a wonderful job at adding loads of suspense. Rebecca Stead did not do a outstanding job of description. She should have described the characters and the setting better so that we could have pictured them and it in our minds. The moral of this book is problem solving which is a good lesson to learn. This book is for children eight years and up. I give the book five stars!  

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Excellent Middle Grade Novel
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5.0
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5.0
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0.0
Reader reviewed by Sarah S



A few weeks ago a friend recommended I read When You
Reach Me
after I told her I had just finished re-reading A Wrinkle in
Time
. She told me nothing about the plot only that there was a connection
to A Wrinkle in Time and that it was amazing. I didn't read the back or
anything else about the book, so I really had no idea what it would be about.



After reading about 10 pages I was totally in to it. She was right it was
amazing.



Four mysterious letters change Mirandas world forever.



By sixth grade, Miranda and her best friend, Sal, know how to navigate their New York City
neighborhood. They know where its safe to go, like the local grocery store,
and they know whom to avoid, like the crazy guy on the corner.



But things start to unravel. Sal gets punched by a new kid for what seems like
no reason, and he shuts Miranda out of his life. The apartment key that
Mirandas mom keeps hidden for emergencies is stolen. And then Miranda finds a
mysterious note scrawled on a tiny slip of paper:



I am coming to save your friends life, and my own.



I must ask two favors. First, you must write me a letter.



The notes keep coming, and Miranda slowly realizes that whoever is leaving them
knows all about her, including things that havent even happened yet. 
Each message brings her closer to believing that only she can prevent a tragic
death. Until the final note makes her think shes too late.
From Rebecca
Stead's website



I absolutely loved this book; read it in about two sittings. Everything about
it works. The plot may seem a bit confusing and scattered in the beginning, but
once you reach the end everything falls into place perfectly.



When You Reach Me is one of the best middle grade books I've read. Stead
is very aware of what that age group is looking for and will relate to.
Miranda's voice is definitely that of a twelve year old; her actions, thoughts,
and concerns are all ones 10-13 year olds can easily relate to. The romance
elements are minimal and only hit on first kisses; friendship and growing apart
is the major focus. Both of which are perfectly appropriate for middle grade.



Beyond truly knowing her audience, Stead's writing itself is smart. It's
interesting from the first line to the last. The book's pretty short, only
about 200 pages, but Stead packs every page with important details that all
come together at the end of the book. The book is packed with odd, fantastical
elements which all must stay consistent throughout the book and come together
to make sense in the end. Stead does an amazing job of this.



This book most certainly deserved to win the Newberry Award.



Get this book immediately and begin reading



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