Wowsers you guys! WHY do I torture myself and wait so long to read books that I know I’m going to love from the very beginning? I do this too often: I find/read about/see a book that I think I will absolutely love, then I file it away to be read, only to read a slew of other books I enjoy but don’t absolutely LOVE. Then I get in a reading slump, finally pick up said book, and am renewed in my belief about the power of story!
By the way–that’s a true story about this book. I waited far to long to read it, but it has renewed my book spirit!
I borrowed a copy from my local library. I was not compensated in any way for my review (cross my heart) nor did I promise a good rating. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% mine. Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is hosted every Monday at author Shannon Messenger’s blog.
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.
5 Reasons Why This Books is Marvelous!
- My favorite book seems to change day by day, but honestly, I always go back to the classics. When I’m recommending fantasy books for students to start out on, I often find myself mentioning Narnia, Harry Potter, and A Wrinkle in Time. Those books changed my childhood–and I still believe they have a power to change any reader. When You Reach Me has been on my to be read list for a long time, simply because of its ties to A Wrinkle In Time. To keep spoilers few, and to keep the mystery alive, this read is so very entwined with Wrinkle that I will now be recommending Wrinkle and then Reach in order of important stories that must be read by any fantasy / sci-fi / time travel lover.
- There are honestly so many things to love about this book, and if my head wasn’t in such a cloud from my cold, I could probably be more specific. Beyond the characters, and the writing itself, this book is 100% quotable. I realize now I haven’t been the best at picking out and posting quotes on the blog–but I am a quote lover. OH my goodness, when I was in high school, I had one whole wall of my bedroom covered in quotes. I’m contemplating a wall of book quotes in my classroom, and if it happens, words from When You Reach Me will definitely find their place on it. For instance, how powerful is this: Well, it’s simple to love someone,” she said. “But it’s hard to know when you need to say it out loud. There is just so much beauty in this read that I found myself stopping every few pages to write something down to hold onto for later.
- Stead’s writing is simply marvelous, and after taking my time with this read I can see how When You Reach Me won the Newberry for the year, as well as many other awards. I will admit, I’m not always the best at reading the award winners until after they’ve been dubbed winners–but sometimes I have this inkling that I know a book is just going to get it. When I first discovered this book (before the medal) I knew it was special. Not only is Stead’s writing smooth and heartfelt, but she weaves an aura of mystery into a seemingly everyday story. But it’s the hidden emotion and underlying themes that make this story truly magnificent.
- As far as characters go, I really love Miranda. She’s such a sweet girl, yet her internal struggle is there and makes her relatable to many, many readers. She’s sassy, and humorous, and an all-around a good kid. She’s the kind of friend I would have loved to be and have when I was in middle school, and reminds me so much of Meg from AWIT that I hope my future daughter can meet these characters and find a kindred spirit in them.
- Because I can’t get enough of the actual words of this story, I’m doubling up on quotes as my reasons this book is marvelous. Yes–the characters, and the story makes this a story worth reading–but so do the actual words. Reading a book that sticks with you far after finishing it reveals the power of that story to affect and change your life. Sometimes that power comes from a kindred spirit in a character, sometimes that power comes from a story that is similar to our life–but often, I find that power of story to come from the words themselves as they touch my heart and make me think about life. And When You Reach Me did just that.
Mom says each of us has a veil between ourselves and the rest of the world, like a bride wears on her wedding day, except this kind of veil is invisible. We walk around happily with these invisible veils hanging down over our faces. The world is kind of blurry, and we like it that way. But sometimes our veils are pushed away for a few moments, like there’s a wind blowing it from our faces. And when the veil lifts, we can see the world as it really is, just for those few seconds before it settles down again. We see all the beauty, and cruelty, and sadness, and love. But mostly we are happy not to. Some people learn to lift the veil themselves. Then they don’t have to depend on the wind anymore.
Book Talk: Have you read When You Reach Me? What did you think? Were you surprised by the twist? Did it move your heart like it did mine?