Some facts about When You Reach Me:
- The main character’s name is Miranda.
- She is in 6th grade.
- The story takes place in 1978 and 1979.
- Miranda’s favorite book is A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle.
- Miranda’s mother is selected to be a contestant on The $20,000 Pyramid with Dick Clark.
- Miranda’s friend Sal got punched for no reason by a boy they didn’t know.
- The boy who punched Sal is named Marcus; he is socially awkward, super smart, and believes time travel is possible.
- Sal decides he doesn’t want to hang out with Miranda anymore.
- Miranda becomes friends with Annemarie and Colin.
- A crazy man lives on Miranda’s corner; he sleeps with his head under the mailbox and practices high kicks during the day.
- Miranda begins receiving mysterious notes by an anonymous writer predicting things that happen in the near future, asking her favors, and proclaiming he is here to save one of her friend’s lives.
When You Reach Me is a realistic story about a girl living her realistic and complicated life but with a fantastical twist.
Reaction: Pretty amazing. Its mystery elements reminded me of one of my favorite books, The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin, though I can’t explain to you exactly why–just a feeling. When you hear about the book you probably most often hear about the mysterious notes Miranda receives and the mystery she has to solve because of them, but about 85% of the book is nothing mysterious at all, though relevant to the mystery, it is simply Miranda living her life: Miranda trying to recover from her best friend’s rejection; Miranda making new friends; Miranda feeling jealous or petty then feeling bad for feeling that way; Miranda upset with her mother because her mother doesn’t cook or clean or act like her friends’ parents; Miranda helping her mother prepare for her game show. Every snippet of Miranda’s life is precise, concise, and relevant, and brings the reader one step closer to solving the mystery but it is also dead on accurate of the trials and emotions of a 6th grade girl. One passage particularly struck me, mostly because it is something that I still struggle with:
Sometimes you never feel meaner than the moment you stop being mean. It’s like how turning on a light makes you realize how dark the room had gotten. And the way you usually act, the things you would have normally done, are like these ghosts that everyone can see but pretends not to. It was like that when I asked Alice Evans to be my bathroom partner. I wasn’t one of the girls who tortured her on purpose, but I had never lifted a finger go help her before, or even spent one minute being nice. (144)
Miranda learns the being mean is not simply acting against someone but can also be simply not doing anything at all.
When You Reach Me is one that I’m planning on rereading, not right away because I want to forget a little, but I think that I will definitely get more out of it the second time around. Oh, and I really need to read A Wrinkle in Time! I’m sad to say I never have and I think it would give me an even better appreciation for this wonderful book.