Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Book Review: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Miranda's mom has been selected to appear as a contestant on The $20,000 Pyramid, hosted by Dick Clark, which would be the most exciting thing to happen to her, ever, except... she already knew it was going to happen before it did. The man who wrote the letters told her it would.

It started the afternoon that Miranda's best friend Sal got punched. Miranda and Sal have been best friends since they were little, when Miranda and her mom moved to the apartment in New York above Sal and his mom's apartment. They always eat lunch together, and they always walk home from school together, across the street from the pack of boys who hang out in front of the huge garage and past the laughing man who sleeps with his head under the mailbox. That afternoon, when they're walking past the pack of boys, one of them breaks away from the group and punches Sal. Hard. For no reason.

After that, Sal doesn't want to hang out with Miranda anymore, and she can't really figure out why. Luckily for Miranda, Julia decided to punish Annemarie for something the same week that Sal got punched. Julia's not eating lunch with Annemarie, and Sal isn't eating lunch with Miranda, so Annemarie and Miranda have lunch together. And then Colin starts coming to lunch too. And even though she doesn't have Sal anymore, things are looking up - Annemarie and Colin are really fun.

But when Miranda comes home from school on Friday, the apartment's unlocked. The only thing that's missing is the apartment key. And on the following Monday, Miranda finds the first note in her library book. It's written in tiny letters on a scrap of paper that looks like it used to be wet. It tells Miranda that the letter writer is coming to save her friend's life, that she must write him a letter, and to remember to tell him about the location of the house key. But the letter writer couldn't have taken the key - right? Why would he need to know where it is if he already took it?

Who is writing Miranda the letters? How does he know what's going to happen? Whose life is he coming to save? Is Miranda in danger? And what does Sal getting punched have to do with it all? The winner of the 2010 Newbery Medal, When You Reach me is a magical puzzle of a read about family, friends, love, and how, sometimes, an event that seems inconsequential (no matter how much it hurts at the moment) is anything but meaningless.

(who recently finished Liar by Justine Larbalestier - amazing! I still don't know what to believe happened! Don't know what I'm talking about? Read Katie's review, then check it out!)

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