Reading When You Reach Me was a pleasant surprise. Not one I would normally have chosen to read, though having seen it recommended by Goodreads in the Magical Realism section (complete with rave 4+ star reviews) I was confident that I'd enjoy a good story at least!
Many describe When You Reach Me as a YA title, though MLN readers are probably aware that such genre associations bother me not one bit. It is certainly a coming of age story, complete with the angst of teenage friendship and first crushes. But throughout it is threaded with just the right amount of sci-fi and magic to seem realistic, the type of story I enjoy reading the most. As you read, you might like to imagine this as a film which has absolutely no need for special effects...
The story is told in the first person by Miranda, a sixth grader with a deep love of Madeline D'engel's A Wrinkle in Time. A strange homeless man has taken up residence beneath the post box on her street, and her childhood friend doesn't want to speak to her anymore. Miranda starts to receive mysterious notes which tell her of things no-one should know, things that haven't happened yet, and she's concerned that a friend might be in danger...
I was very impressed with this book, not least because the plot twists in unexpected ways and turned my assumptions on their head! From the very first chapter I was gripped: the potential for story development was exciting, and I empathize with the voice of this awkward, realistic girl whose inner thoughts reminded me of what it felt like to be that age (all those years ago!). The pace of the book remains steady throughout, pleasingly unrushed through the last few chapters - a mistake I often find writers make when trying to tie all of those loose ends together. Of course, I would love to know what happened afterwards, though I consider that to be the mark of a great book, one which makes you wonder and want more.
Star Rating: /5
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead is available from Amazon and al good retailers.
Reviewed by: Amanda Kennedy on 27th April 2015