Top positive review
"There are days when everything changes, and this was one of those days."
on June 1, 2017
What an engaging book. I love the idea of that this revolves around that old game show, in a blurry background kind of way, $20,000 Pyramid. I grew up watching that show, perhaps some reruns—I can't know for sure, because I was born the time in which this is set. So, the fall of 1978 and the winter heading into 1979, are not in my memory banks. I love that this takes place during the time in which I was born but could not remember. But, that orange and brown haze which seems to define that era, is alive and well within the confines of When You Reach Me.
Revolving around an old Dick Clark hosted game show seems a little gimmicky on the surface, but Stead manages it deftly by setting it as a soft backdrop and a framing device. With Pyramid chapter titles, i.e., Things You Count, Things You Push Away, Salty Things, etc, you have a clever and grounding way to deliver these episodic moments from Miranda's life and hold onto that tie to the game show and her mother's appearance on it, coming up that spring.
The notes, and the missing items, provide a fantastic puzzle for the reader to unravel. The personal problems Miranda has to deal with are simple by definition but complex and tricky in life. Figuring out who you are and trying to understand the people around you is something at which everyone, at every age, struggles. Miranda is on the cusp of something extraordinary with the notes and the eventual discovery, but she's also on that cusp of heading into her teenage years, that apex which everyone must traverse as you leave childhood.
Not only do I adore this book, I would’ve absolutely loved it when I was in the target age range. I loved it so much, just because it's an entertaining book to read, that, after returning my borrowed copy to the library, I immediately ordered the hardcover for my sons to read.