If you’re anything like me, you’ve already heard about a million great recommendations for Rebecca Stead’s WHEN YOU REACH ME, and that can be a bit of a double-edged sword. The great reviews made me really, REALLY want to read the book, but they also set up what I worried might be unrealistic expectations. Could it really be THAT amazing?
It could. And it is.
These young characters, growing up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, are reminiscent of Judy Blume’s families in TALES OF FOURTH GRADE NOTHING and the FUDGE series. They’re authentic, multi-faceted, funny, and real. Their story of friendship and first crushes and first jobs would have been enough to win me over. But then the letter comes. When main character Miranda reads it, she she learns that a mysterious someone says he or she is coming to save her friend’s life, and the story evolves from a coming of age tale into a mystery/science fiction, genre-bending marvel. At the heart of WHEN YOU REACH ME is a thread about time travel — the possibilities, the what-if and the how-might-we, and the sheer wonder of believing. When I finished, I wanted to pick it up immediately and start reading all over again.
This is going to be the first book that I share with my middle school students as a read-aloud in the fall. I absolutely, positively can’t wait.
Editing to add: I loaned my copy of WHEN YOU REACH ME to
, who has also posted a recommendation today. Hers is longer and way more detailed because she is like that and also makes fancy little place cards when you go to her house for dinner. You can read her thoughts here.