Middle-grade Monday: When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead
Today's post is late, and not entirely up to snuff, because I have been traveling and had limited opportunities to work on it. I'll try to do better in future!Title: When You Reach Me
Author: Rebecca Stead
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books, 2009, 199 pages
Source: Library digital resources
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.
This was a Goodreads Great Middle Grade Reads Book of the Month read, and I admit I might not have read it otherwise. Neither the cover nor the blurb totally appealed to me. As it turns out, I'm glad I did.
I'm not sure I'd class this among the best middle grade books I've read, but it was engaging and suspenseful, and I enjoyed the mystery, because although it starts at the end it doesn't give away exactly what happened and how we got there. The writing is good, and the narrator's voice fairly convincing for a 12-year-old (I think I got that about right; I don't have my copy with me as I'm writing). The biggest issue I had with the book was a certain frustration in the first chapters over just what the time period setting is. It is eventually made completely clear, but I spent a good chunk of the book contemplating clues like the lack of cell phones.
Great reading for boys or girls 8 or 9 to 12--or anyone who likes a little mystery and a little playing with time and reality.
FTC Disclosure: I checked When You Reach Me out of my library, and received nothing from the writer or publisher in exchange for my honest review. The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
For summer reading for the grown-ups, check out the Pismawallops PTA mysteries, at summer sale prices!