When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead 978-0385737425, 2009, hbk $15.99
Miranda is in the 6th grade in New York City in 1978, and her life is changing in the last year of elementary school. Her best friend Sal stops talking to her, unexpectedly, after being punched by a strange kid. She goes out of her comfort zone to make new friends, including the boy who punched Sal. Her mother is preparing to go on The $20,000 Pyramid, and a weird homeless man has taken up residence outside her apartment building. Then she starts getting strange notes that predict the future, but she is warned not to share them. The story takes all three of these strands and weaves them into a neat time-travel story, but it is the details of this story that make it so comfortable to read. Miranda deals with friendship and school like most children do, and it is wonderful to see her growing and changing as she realizes her strengths and weaknesses. She finally learns how to relate to Sal, and to her three new friends, her mother and mother’s boyfriend, and even to the weird laughing man on the street corner. And did I mention that there is time travel involved?
This quiet story is highly recommended to upper elementary and middle schoolers who like stories about school, friendship, and yes, a bit of science fiction.
Review by Niki Roohi, Goldenview Middle School Librarian Anchorage Alaska