When You Reach Me (Yearling Newbery)

Rebecca Stead
This remarkable novel holds a fantastic puzzle at its heart. 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, and they know who to avoid. Like the crazy guy on the corner.But things start to unravel. Sal gets punched by a kid on the street 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 a mysterious note arrives, scrawled on a tiny slip of paper. The notes keep coming, and Miranda slowly realizes that whoever is leaving them knows things no one should know. 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.


Reviewed: 2017-01-17

6.0 AR points

Reviewed: 2016-10-11

A fun and exciting read, When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead offers an inquisitive look at friendships, fate, and even time travel. At sixth grade, Miranda knows how to find her way around her neighborhood and the city that surrounds it. She finds safety in familiarity, and comfort in her mothers fun and freestyle nature. Through new friendships and mini adventures, we see an individual emerge out of the young Miranda. However, a series of mysterious notes leave her questioning her safety and her fate as she understands it. Conceptually, this book was a puzzle that comes together at the very end, leaving us with the notion that we all have some sort of effect on one another.

In terms of utilizing this book in a classroom, I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to in a secondary setting. I imagine this book to be appropriate for those at a sixth grade reading level.  However, I wouldn’t shy away from condensing some of the passages, and using a section of the book as a short story exercise of sorts. This story has the power to remind of us what the core of an imagination looks like, and how innocence runs through it. The only part about this book that I might not like for children is the thought of this man on the corner watching and observing Miranda and her friends. I think that storyline can be a disturbing thought, if you allow it to be.

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