Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Newbery Reviews: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (2010 Medal Winner)

My goal is to read and review all of the Newbery Medal Winners, in no particular order. This is a review of the 2010 winner, When You Reach Me

For the longest time, I passed this short sci-fi romp over in the Newbery section at the library due to disinterest. The cover just didn’t strike me at all, and neither did the initial description. A latch-key New York girl lives in the city with divorced parents. While the latch-key kid part caught my eye, it just seemed like another kid-has-issues-and-divorced-parents book.
I tell you what, though. I was wrong.
Protagonist Miranda, as before mentioned, is a latch-key kid in New York City. As the story opens, she is helping her mom practice for an upcoming appearance on the game show, The $20,000 Pyramid, while tracking the mysterious figure leaving her bizarre notes at school.
At first, I didn’t even realize this book was science fiction. It started off with non-pretentious narrative and a well-rounded character who wasn’t anything revolutionary, with an honest but not overwhelmingly political glance at the seventies. In short, the book wasn’t trying to be anything more than it was. But then, without giving away spoilers, the story flipped around toward the end of the middle half in true Wrinkle in Time fashion, in a flawless tribute to the classic series. To be honest, I found the supernatural twist better written and thought out than anything Madeline L’Engle ever jotted down.
Also, When You Reach Me had diverse characters, who were there as characters, not statements, and not just people of color, but also people with disorders and quirks. I found the male characters a little lacking, but loved the girls in Miranda’s circle. I wanted to join them at lunch and cut sandwiches with them and talk about Wrinkle in Time.
The book is, though lighthearted and enjoyable, somewhat unimpressive until towards the end of the story. So if you do pick When You Reach Me up, try to reach that far before you get bored. I promise it will be worth it.

Rating: Three and a half stars
Favorite character: Annamarie
Favorite quotes: "Well, it's simple to love someone," she said. "But it's hard to know when to say it out loud." "Trying to forget really doesn't work. In fact, it's pretty much the same as remembering."
Recommended age: 10+
Content level for parents: a couple instances of the h-word, someone steals large amounts of money, someone is hit by a car


  1. I loved this story but almost better was her next one with a male protagonist – LIAR & SPY. Thanks for the look back.

  2. This sounds like a fantastic story! I can't wait to start reading!