Wednesday, February 23, 2011

MG Book Review: When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead

General Information
Publisher:  Random House
Year of publication:  2009
# of chapters:  55
# of pages:  197
Genre:  Science Fiction / Mystery
Plot summary: (see link above)

Positive Points
This book has a unique, second person POV.  I don't remember ever reading a book with this kind of POV before.  It's mainly told in the first person, from Miranda's POV, but once in a while there's a sentence where she addresses someone else, as in a letter, such as "And that's when I found your first note."  I've read books in which the narrator talked to the reader, but this is different.  Miranda is telling her story to one of the characters in the book, actually.  Loved it!  Very original, and it works well for this story.

The story is intriguing from the very start, and it gets better as the plot advances and more details are revealed.  The chapters are very short, which made me want to keep reading, especially to figure out why Sal seemed to have abandoned his best friend Miranda for no apparent reason. That bothered me a lot.  Why did such a beautiful friendship suddenly end?  And who was sending these mysterious notes to Miranda?  I really wanted to know!

The story involves many different kinds of friendships, and shows character growth not only for the main character but also for several minor ones as well.  I loved the themes behind this book, which are conveyed through the plot in a natural way, without being forced on the reader.  I always like books that make me think.

Negative Points
I had no clue what was happening for the first third of the book.  It took me a while to assemble enough information to figure out what the story was about.  I would say it's a negative point only because it was a little too "mysterious" for a while, like the narrator knew things the reader should know, but didn't reveal them until later.

Sal's reason for letting Miranda down didn't make sense to me.  I wish there had been a few clues ahead of time leading to that.  Maybe there were, and I missed them? Hmm...  I'll have to read the book again.  As of now, I'm kind of disappointed.

What makes this book unique
Time travel elements woven into the story reminded me of the 1980s movie Back to the Future a little. (Am I revealing my age?)  The narrator refers to Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle of Time on several occasions, which I read a while ago.  Now I want to re-read it to fully understand what the narrator was talking about.

Overall Impression
This is the kind of book we have to read twice to fully understand it and appreciate all the details.  I liked that book enough to read it a second time.  I think I will!

My Rating:

Thinking of purchasing this book? I'll make it easy for you:


patti.mallett_pp said...

Looking forward to following your blog, sent over by Jill Kemerer on Twitter. I loved "When You Reach Me" - enough to read twice (from the library) and then purchase my own copy for study purposes. Thanks for the reminder to dig into it again!

Emailman said...

Great review, Annie :) Sound very interesting!

Tania Miclau said...

Now I really want to read the book ... going to have to hunt it down. Really enjoyed your review:-)

Annie McMahon said...

Nice, a new blog follower! Thanks for visiting my blog, Patti! :)

And thanks for your comments, Kurt and Tania! It was a very interesting book. Maybe I'll read it again after I read the 13 books I took out from the library last week. Um... Maybe I bit more than I could chew. LOL

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