When You Reach Me
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know this time-traveler novel features the death of a man who is hit by a truck in front of the main character. It also addresses a girl's fear of a homeless man near her New York City apartment and touches on racism. The main character's friend is punched in the stomach by another boy for no apparent reason. Readers will get more out of the book if they've also read A Wrinkle in Time, which is referenced frequently as Miranda's favorite book.
What's the story?
Twelve-year-old Miranda has enough to worry about: her best friend, who suddenly refuses to hang out together; a boy she might kind of like; the homeless guy on the corner near her New York City apartment; and her single mom, an aspiring game show contestant. But now Miranda is getting creepy hidden notes that tell her to write down the story of what happens to her -- but not inform anyone. It will take a tragedy to show Miranda that neither the notes nor her friendships are quite what she imagined.
Is it any good?
WHEN YOU REACH ME won the 2010 Newbery Medal, and has a twisty plot that plays with the time-space continuum. It's hard to call it sci-fi, however, since the main focus is Miranda's perfectly voiced, first-person account of negotiating friendships and family dynamics on the cusp of adolescence. Young readers will relate to Miranda's gradual, sometimes painful self-awareness, though they might find its 1979 setting quaint as characters actually talk to each other (rather than text or IM).
With its mystery hook, this is one of those well-written books that should appeal to both librarians AND kids.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about what role the game show The $20,000 Pyramid plays in the book. Why did the author choose that game show in particular? What does it mean that chapters have such titles as "Things You Keep Secret"?
Miranda says watching after-school TV is "a birthright of every latchkey child." Do you think that is true?
Why is A Wrinkle in Time Miranda's favorite book? If kids have read it already, did they like it or When You Reach Me better?