Home > Intermediate Fiction > When you reach me by Rebecca Stead

When you reach me by Rebecca Stead

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. Pub. Wendy Lamb Books, 2009.

This book won the Newberry Medal for the best children’s book in USA this year. See if you can figure out why?

I found the book a little inaccessible, an enigma, even though I did recognise it as an original and deep story. I wonder how a child of twelve would see it, as it is for this age group that the novel is written.

Miranda and her relationships are the gist of the novel, but they don’t seem to go anywhere with the only drama being near the end of the book. Miranda narrates the story.

For all her school life Miranda has been friends with Sal, after a confrontation with Marcus, Sal becomes aloof which bemuses Miranda. At school she becomes friends with Annemarie who has fallen out with Julia. Nothing new in this scenario.

The setting of New York City brings with it some strange characters none more than the laughing man who lives on the streets and seems to know more about Miranda and what will happen than she does. We never find out why this is.

Miranda’s mother at the start of the novel is set to appear on a game show on TV and is deciding whether to form a relationship with the man in her life, Richard. The game show progresses but not the relationship, why leave it dangling?

I just didn’t get this book and I think children will struggle too. There is a good story in here somewhere but as Groucho Marx once said, “this isn’t it”.

Believe me I don’t like criticising books as I want kids to read, but this title just left me flat.

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