When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Novel: When You Read Me

Author: Rebecca Stead

Target Audience: 8-12 years

Genre: Mystery (with a touch of science fiction)

Publication Year: 2009

Setting: New York City; 1927

A Favorite Quote: “Common sense is just a name for the way we’re used to thinking.”

My One Sentence Summary: Miranda is supposed to write a letter about the things that happened after Marcus punched Sal, but at first Miranda is scared and uncertain about who the letter is for and why she must write it.

What I loved about this book: I love Rebecca Stead’s writing–the syntax variation, the mostly short, punchy chapters, the rich subtext. The writing is intelligent. Stead allows readers to make inferences and draw their own conclusions about the story. Major themes are explored gradually and woven flawlessly into the plot. The story has a sense of inevitability, yet the novel’s final twist still took me by surprise. Characters are richly developed and the setting feels extremely real. I also adore the references to A Wrinkle in Time. Basically, I love everything about this book.     

 Major themes: Understanding who people really are rather than relying on snap judgments or superficial stereotypes; coming-of-age and changing friendships

Who should read this book: Thoughtful readers who enjoy unexpected twists and turns. The concepts related to space and time are paradoxical and have been confusing for some of my students, but overall this is a great book for anyone interested in science fiction or sleuthing.