For a book from 2009, it’s somewhat surprising that When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead is already near the top of the Top 100 list at number 11. But, as it ties in to the number one book, A Wrinkle in Time, it makes a bit of sense.
What it’s about: Miranda’s life becomes pretty strange when her best friend stops talking to her, she gets a job at the local sandwich shop during lunch with a couple of new friends, and her mom begins practicing for an appearance on a gameshow. Of course, these things are all nothing compared to the strange notes that have started appearing in her stuff, asking her to record all of the current events in her life (including the location of her spare house key) in a letter.
Age level: Grade 4-7
Best thing: Time travel. I love it and I especially love how it’s used in this book (even though it leads to a very bittersweet ending).
Worst thing: I’m not really sure. I like this book a lot but I don’t absolutely love it and I can’t put my finger on why. Miranda is flawed but she’s a sixth grader. It would be weird if she had perfect social graces and loads of tact, right? I don’t know. I think maybe there were just too many issues squeezed into this tiny book. A few of the plot lines felt a bit thin.
So the question from many of you is probably “Do I need to read A Wrinkle in Time first?” I would mostly say yes. The way it’s mentioned in the book is only in brief snippets. It’s not that they wouldn’t make sense but that they just make more sense with some background knowledge. It’s Miranda’s favorite book so she talks about it from the perspective of someone who has read the book dozens of times. Still, I think it’s a good enough book that you COULD read it without a pre-read. It’s also about friendships and family and first love and those are things we all already know about.
On a totally unrelated note, tomorrow is the start of Diana Wynne Jones March. If you haven’t heard of this event yet, head on over to my blog and check out the launch post! It’s a celebration of all things DWJ for the entire month of March. None of her books made it onto this list but they are some of the best children’s and young adult fiction ever.