157 of 170 people found the following review helpful
Realistic novel with a heart of fantasy,
This review is from: When You Reach Me (Hardcover)
"When You Reach Me" is a rare gem of young adult fiction: an involving story whose subtle writing and characterization pull you in as much as the mystery that binds the story together. I liked the slice of life of 1979 New York as twelve-year old Miranda and her friends explore their neighborhood, giving us a bit of a Free-Range Kids perspective on days gone by.
Miranda gains and loses friends, and grapples with normal sixth-grade angst, but her worries take on a new twist when she discovers mysterious notes from someone who tries to convince her that he or she can see things that have not happened yet, adding fantasy and sci-fi into this realistic setting where you'd least expect it. Once the mystery has been solved, many readers will want to go back and read the story a second time to see how the pieces fit together in a new light.
In a thematic parallel, Miranda's experiences reflect her own shifting ability to see situations through other people's eyes. She also learns that giving or withholding small acts of kindness or meanness can have big consequences. What I love though is that the story is told in a way that does not feel at all preachy.
This is a great book for anyone ages 10 and up. It would be okay for younger kids, but those readers have so many choices that I would save "When You Reach Me" for age 10, because in my experience it's harder to find good books for that age. Also, the point of view of the story is a bit tricky (skillful, but unconventional), as Miranda writes to her mystery correspondent, which could be confusing for younger readers but an interesting challenge for older kids.
As an adult reader and I thoroughly enjoyed "When You Reach Me." (I am actually Miranda's "age," 11 in 1979, and I loved the part about her Mom's obsession with the $20,000 Pyramid. Brought back memories.) In the story Miranda talks a lot about her favorite book, one that has captivated readers from the 1960's to today, A Wrinkle in Time, and I would recommend reading that first!
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Initial post: Jun 16, 2010 7:37:49 AM PDT
! Aesop - Sam says:
An informative and wonderful review indeed!
Posted on Sep 3, 2012 10:19:45 AM PDT
Ugh, now I have to read this book since I was also 11 in 1979 and A Wrinkle in Time was one of my favorite books and $20,000 Pyramid was the only show airing on the three channels we got, how can I not read it?
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