Rebecca Stead won the Newbery Award this year for When You Reach Me, a book that serves as a mystery, an historical novel, and the story of a lost young girl.
In 1978, Miranda lives with her mother in New York City. She relates the story of four letters that changed her life. They were letters that scared her, indicating that someone was watching her, someone who could predict the future, although the events followed closely enough on the heels of the notes that Miranda remembered the predictions.
At twelve, Miranda's life is changing. She lost her best friend, Sal, on a day when he was punched in the stomach as they walked home from school together. Sal turned his back on her, spending his time playing basketball with other boys. So, Miranda picked up a new friend, Annemarie, when Annemarie had a fight with her friend, Julia. At the same time, Miranda gets to know Marcus, the boy who hit Sal. Her mother, a paralegal, is practicing for her chance on a game show, The 20,000 Pyramid. And, Richard, her mother's boyfriend for two years, would like to move in, but her mother is stalling.
Miranda is a lost soul, hanging on to the story of A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle, as one friend she can count on. She's not prepared for that book to be the favorite of her enemy. And, she's not prepared for the tragic accident that will hint at the answers to her questions about the four notes, left anonymously.
Rebecca Stead's book, designed for readers from nine to twelve, holds secrets. And, the secret of the strange "laughing man" on the corner was a surprise. However, despite the unusual mystery and the time travel element introduced by the inclusion of A Wrinkle in Time, somehow I missed the quality that made this book a Newbery winner. Or, perhaps it's just me. I enjoyed the book and the mysterious element, but I'm afraid this book didn't excite me as much as I had hoped it would. Even so, When You Reach Me is a book that will last in bookstores and libraries, due to the Newbery Award.
Have you read When You Reach Me? Does Stead's new book belong with the other Newbery winners? And, as I said, it could just be that it didn't excite me as much as A Wrinkle in Time.
Rebecca Stead's website is http://www.rebeccasteadbooks.com
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. Random House Children's Books, ©2009. ISBN 9780385737425 (hardcover), 199p.
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