Summary and book reviews of When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

When You Reach Me

by Rebecca Stead

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead X
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
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  • First Published:
    Jul 2009, 208 pages
    Paperback:
    Dec 2010, 208 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Pam Watts
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About this Book

Book Summary

Winner of the 2010 Newbery Medal. Miranda is an ordinary sixth grader, until she starts receiving mysterious messages from somebody who 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. For ages approx 9-14.

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.

Winner of the 2010 Newbery Medal.

Things You Keep in a Box

So Mom got the postcard today. It says Congratulations in big curly letters, and at the very top is the address of Studio TV-15 on West 58th Street. After three years of trying, she has actually made it. She's going to be a contestant on The $20,000 Pyramid, which is hosted by Dick Clark.

On the postcard there's a list of things to bring. She needs some extra clothes in case she wins and makes it to another show, where they pretend it's the next day even though they really tape five in one afternoon. Barrettes are optional, but she should definitely bring some with her. Unlike me, Mom has glossy red hair that bounces around and might obstruct America's view of her small freckled face.

And then there's the date she's supposed to show up, scrawled in blue pen on a line at the bottom of the card: April 27, 1979. Just like you said.

I check the box under my bed, which is where I've kept your notes these past few months. There it is, in your tiny handwriting: April ...

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  • award image

    The John Newbery Medal
    2010

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

This is an intellectual mystery of just exactly the type I adore. It’s meaty, thought-provoking, warm, and wise. I love it. And it makes sense that I would, because it stands on the shoulders of A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, a book that Miranda devours just as I did as a child... I highly recommend this book to any child who loves to ask questions or any grownup who still believes in his heart of hearts that the real world is magic...continued

Full Review (670 words).

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(Reviewed by Pam Watts).

Media Reviews

Wall Street Jounral
Readers ... are likely to find themselves chewing over the details of this superb and intricate tale long afterward.

The New York Times
Stead piles up clues on the way to a moment of intense drama, after which it is pretty much impossible to stop reading until the last page.

The Washington Post
When You Reach Me far surpasses the usual whodunit or sci-fi adventure to become an incandescent exploration of "life, death, and the beauty of it all." ...the believable characters and unexpected ending invite readers to ponder the extraordinary that underlies the ordinary in this fictional world and in their own.

Booklist
Starred Review. [T]he mental gymnastics required of readers are invigorating; and the characters, children, and adults are honest bits of humanity no matter in what place or time their souls rest.

The Horn Book Magazine
Starred Review. Closing revelations are startling and satisfying but quietly made, their reverberations giving plenty of impetus for the reader to go back to the beginning and catch what was missed.

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. It’s easy to imagine readers studying Miranda's story as many times as she’s read L’Engle’s, and spending hours pondering the provocative questions it raises. Ages 9–14.

School Library Journal
Starred Review. This unusual, thought-provoking mystery will appeal to several types of readers.

Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. [W]hen all the sidewalk characters from Miranda's Manhattan world converge amid mind-blowing revelations and cunning details, teen readers will circle back to the beginning and say,'Wow ... cool".

Reader Reviews

Alex

BEST BOOK EVER!
I'm in 5th grade and the second I read the first sentence, I was like "this is it! This is the book I will read for my mystery book review!" THIS BOOK IS THE BEST AND IT'S SO AWESOME!
LA LA

Book Report
I have read this book for a book report and I thought it was amazing! :) It was a little bit confusing at first but after I read and re-read the book a couple of times, it definitely became one of my favorites!!
Brooke :D

Clift Hanging Mystery Book! :D My Favorite! :)
When you reach me by Rebecca Stead is a mystery that I recomend to everyone who loves a great mystery! You would LOVE it because at every chapter it keeps you hanging so you just want to keep reading... it hooks you and you cant put the book down! :D...   Read More
lexi

THE BEST BOOK EVER
I loved this book. Out of all the books I have read, I would say this is my favorite. I read this book over and over, and it NEVER gets old.

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Beyond the Book

It's All Relative

Einstein’s Theory of Relativity is, at its heart, about frames of reference. If I were in a dark, windowless train with no bumps that was going in one direction at a constant speed, then I would think I was standing still, but my sister on the train platform would see me speeding away from her. According to Einstein, if I then looked out the window, I would have every right to believe, in fact, that the world was speeding away behind me while I stood still. My sister, of course, would also be right that she was standing still. Hence, reality becomes relative to the frame of reference of the observer.

Time, as well, becomes relative to the observer’s frame of reference. This has been proven both mathematically and experimentally...

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More books by Rebecca Stead

If you liked When You Reach Me, try these:

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    Liar & Spy is an inspired, often-funny story about destiny, goofy brilliance, and courage. Like Stead's Newbery Medal-winning When You Reach Me, it will keep readers guessing until the end

  • See You at Harry's jacket

    See You at Harry's

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    Published 2013

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    Starting middle school brings all the usual challenges - until the unthinkable happens, and Fern and her family must find a way to heal.

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