When You Reach Me, written by Rebecca Stead, is penned in a six-grade Miranda’s point of view. Miranda and her best friend Sal know how to navigate their New York City neighborhood. They know where is safe to go, and they know who to avoid. Even though Miranda is one of those latchkey kids who has to be alone after school, days are fine and normal. Until one day, everything starts to go wrong after a kid on the street punches Sal for no reason. From that day forward, Sal locks his heart away from Miranda. Later, a series of mysterious notes kept coming to her, and each message brings her closer to believing that only she can prevent a tragic death, until the final note makes her think she’s too late. Will Miranda stop the death while finding a way to open Sal’s mind again?
This story is an exciting, engaging mix of science fiction, mystery, and adventure. The act of Miranda trying to understand the laws of time travel, some how confuses the reader but fascinates them at the same time. The author creates highly detailed scenes and an unpredictable ending that hooks the reader and allows them to imagine being there. Every time a new chapter begins and the setting change, the reader could easily follow the characters by the description author gives. Readers also can easily build a strong bond of sympathy with the main characters. Therefore When You Reach Me is one of the most significant books for middle school students who have to tackle all kinds of problems such as friendship and decision-making. For example, Miranda faces the common issues of friendship as a 6th grader, and Sal represents both obstacles and supports that she has in her daily life.
Readers including adults will want to read the book over and over again, finding so many similarities between the life of the main characters and their childhoods. Since the book is mixed of realistic fiction and fantasy, students who attend middle school will be recommended the most, as they will feel understanding and fascination at the same time. As far as the mystery, only more advanced readers can discover the truth before the conclusion. Clues are hidden and sometimes difficult to piece together. But, it is definitely worth the challenge. (5 stars)