When You Reach Me: Just Read It
Title: When You Reac
Genre: middle grade
A third grader who lives in Iceland gave me the tip about When You Reach Me. I wanted to know more about the book, but she simply said, “Just read it." She went on to say that she read it in one sitting but gave me no real info about the plot or characters or anything.
I dipped into the book on that sketchy recommendation. Though I didn’t exactly read it in a single sitting, once I got into the story, it was hard to put down. I’d estimate that I read the second half in one sitting.
No matter how long it takes you to get through When You Reach Me, the effort will be worthwhile. It’s the story of a sort-of-lonely middle schooler, Miranda, who lives in New York City. Her only friend, Sal (a boy), has been ignoring her, and she’s not sure why (maybe boys just start ignoring girls at a certain age, maybe Miranda did something wrong?). Miranda's parents are divorced, and she feels really bad about this. (The story takes place in the 1970’s when divorce wasn’t just a bummer, it was also a social embarrassment.) There's a weird kid in the neighborhood who she's not sure how to deal with. She's trying really hard to make new friends, girls this time, at school. It's not easy.
Miranda's one comfort is a book, a novel called A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L'Engle. She keeps this book by her bed and it’s been read so many times it’s practically falling apart.
You don’t have to have read Wrinkle In Time to understand When You Reach Me, but having read Wrinkle adds a whole lot of depth and richness to your reading experience. Wrinkle is about a lonely-ish girl who travels through time and space to find her father, who’s been mysteriously kidnapped on some other planet. It’s a totally awesome book. (Wrinkle won the Newbery Medal in 1963… and hey, so did When You Reach Me, fifty-ish years later in 2010.).
I’ll spoil the ending of When You Reach Me if I write too much about why When You Reach me is like Wrinkle, but suffice it to say, after I finished reading, I thought that Reach was practically a sequel to Wrinkle… although Wrinkle already has its own sequel, A Wind In the Door… actually in addition to the sequel, Wrinkle has a third-quel A Swiftly Tilting Planet and a fourth-quel Many Waters and a fifth-quel An Acceptable Time).
But this is a review of When You Reach Me so let’s get back to the story at hand. Oh, actually, now that I think if it, let's not. Just read it.
Below is a video of the author speaking when she wins the Boston Globe Horn Book Award. Note: the talk doesn't give you much hard info on the plot of When You Reach Me either... Just read it.