Thursday, March 25, 2010

BR: When You Reach Me

by Rebecca Stead

This one recently won the Newberry Medal (which is like the nobel prize for children's literature, I believe) so I wanted to read it, despite it being an MG novel.

**This book is part of my "Take Another Chance Challenge" for #4- Prize Winner Book (Newberry)**

Summary (from goodreads): 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.

My Thoughts

I liked this book, that much is easy to say. I liked the fluidity of the writing, and characters, the way it tied in A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle in a way that doesn't make me cringe (I personally wasn't a huge fan of the AWiT). I thought the characters were well written, fleshed out, complex, and intriguing, along with the mystery being pretty darn good. The setting was so realistic, and the narrative so well done that I could definitely see and feel as if I were in the book.

That aside, I kind of felt that even thought the plot and mystery was really good, I just couldn't get myself to connect with it. Maybe it was because I'm not as used to the genre, or MG books in general, but I felt that although the writing was excellent, it couldn't suck me into caring (a lot) about what would happen. Do you know what I mean? Like it doesn't take a genius to know that the plot/writing is well done, yet I couldn't get myself to like it.

I didn't understand the ending until thinking back about it, which I thought was a bonus because I love books that make you think. I thought the way Stead expertly weaved the answer to everything throughout the book was superb. 1978 Manhattan, and $20,000 Pyramid game was a unique addition to the book too. I also thought that above all, the friendships portrayed in the book was exceedingly realistic, and the turmoil experienced by each character is smart.

- because I don't know how to put this down into words, basically: I can recognize the excellence in the book, yet that didn't make me like it. It was enjoyable on some level, but not on other levels that I actually care about. I can see many many people of all ages loving this book though. It has it all: mystery, plot, characters, writing, and sci-fi! I recommend it and hope you like it more than I do, because it is definitey worth the read.


  1. I understand..even I cant quite like books with which I cannot connect.

  2. Great review! I also get how a book can "technically" be good, but I just can't connect to it... I loved A Wrinkle in Time though! haha. :D

  3. Jenn- you hit it right on the head, the word I was probably looking for when writing the review was 'technically good'.

    bookaholic- yep, you're right, thanks for commenting! :D

  4. Well, I have to give you credit. I haven't read a children's book in ages, not since I was forced to read with my toddler and grade student.

    Well done.


  5. Really interesting review. I personally loved this one, but then I am a huge fan of time travel stories so this kind of plot sits really easy with me. I know what you mean though about books that you know are well written but you just don't connect with yourself - I've had this happen a few times too.

  6. I can't blame you - I think it's one thing acknowledging the excellence of a book, and another thing altogether liking it - I for one, disliked The Great Gatsby, but I agree that it is most definitely an excellent book :) Honest review here girl! :)

  7. Ann- haha, yeah. I rarely read them anymore, but some of them are worth it :) And it brings back reminicent thoughts of Grade School books, I think.

    Lauren- Im really glad you liked it! thanks for commenting :)

    Dwayne- I've been meaning to get around to reading The Great Gatsby. I do think it's just one of those "you need to read it, it doesn't matter if you don't like it, JUST READ IT" books. Like To Kill a Mockingbird :D Thanks for commenting!

  8. This sounds like a very interesting book ... not your run-of-the-mill plot at all!


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