Stead, Rebecca. 2009. When You Reach Me. Random House. 208 pages.
So Mom got the postcard today. It says Congratulations in big curly letters, and at the very top is the address of Studio TV-15 on West 58th Street. After three years of trying, she has actually made it. She's going to be a contestant on The 20,000 Pyramid, which is hosted by Dick Clark.
I really, really loved Rebecca Stead's first novel, First Light. So I was excited to get the opportunity to read her second novel, When You Reach Me. It has a completely different feel to it than her first one.
The novel is historical fiction--set in 1978/1979 in New York City. It's not strictly historical fiction. There's some mystery involved, a twist here and there that makes it unique. If I were trying to sell this book--book talk it if you will--I'd say that it was a loving tribute to the children's classic, A Wrinkle In Time. Our heroine, Miranda, just loves A Wrinkle In Time. Loves it to pieces. She probably feels about it the same way I feel about Ender's Game. That's love and devotion folks!
Part mystery. Part historical fiction. Part coming-of age. The plot focuses in on Miranda and her friends and classmates, her family and neighborhood. What's the mystery? Miranda receives a series of mysterious letters through the course of a few months. Letters that are personal and prophetic. Here's the first letter she receives:
This is hard. Harder than I expected, even with your help. But I have been practicing, and my preparations go well. I am coming to save your friend's life, and my own. I ask two favors. First, that you write me a letter. Second, that you remember to mention the location of your house key in the letter. The trip is a difficult one. I will not be myself when I reach you.
The letters are always slightly weird and found in unexpected places. As the novel unfolds, Miranda accepts these strange offerings as a weird but cool part of her life. Who else receives notes predicting the future in an all-too-personal-and-meaningful way?
While I enjoyed First Light more, I still enjoyed this one. It was just so completely different than any other book I've read.
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
Subscribe to receive updates in your favorite reader.