When You Reach Me

Friday, May 28, 2010

Title: When You Reach Me
Author: Rebecca Stead
Pages: 197
Genre: Middle Grade
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books (Random House)
Release Date: July 14, 2009

When You Reach Me is the 2010 winner of the Newbery Medal. I've read all types of great reviews for it too. But I have to say it just wasn't for me. It is the story of 12-year-old Miranda. She narrates the entire book as though the reader is the person she is speaking to by using the word "you" here and there, but it isn't necessarily the reader specifically she means. (It's as though she is writing this book to a certain person in particular). This book takes place in 1970's New York. It opens with Miranda explaining that her mom is going to be a contestant on the $20,000 pyramid and how she and her mom's boyfriend are helping her prepare. I liked this part, but it really has nothing to do with the rest of the story. Near the beginning of the book, Miranda receives an anonymous note that says some strange things. Most of the rest of the story, and the only driving force sustaining my interest, was who wrote her the notes, as she continues to receive them. So Miranda says things in the book such as "when you wrote me the first note" etc. We also know that she is supposed to be writing a narrative about everything that happened from the beginning and give it to the person writing her the notes.

My disinterest in this book may just be that I haven't read a middle grade novel, oh, probably since I was IN a middle grade. And even then I often didn't care for the award winning books. I do plan on going back and reading some of my favorites... we'll see if I still like them! But I just felt sort of confused the whole time I was reading this. I had a conversation with my sister today and I was on page 150 out of 197 and I couldn't really even tell her what the book was about. One major component of this book is discussion of A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle. If you enjoyed A Wrinkle in Time, you may actually really enjoy this book. If you have not read it but plan to, do it before reading this because there are spoilers. As it relates to ME, I had to read A Wrinkle in Time for school in 5th grade; while most kids really liked it, I could NOT get into it. That was obviously the beginning of a long trend of me not enjoying science-fiction-y type things. I couldn't really get it when I was 11-years-old. And I felt sort of dumb because there were some parts of this book that frustrated me in the same way.... made me feel dumb since I consider myself an intelligent adult and this is a middle grade book, lol! Anyway, there were a lot of references to that book that may make or break how you feel about this book.

I assumed while reading that the foreshadowed ending twist would probably make a big impact on the feel for the book. And I did find the last 10-15 pages a little more interesting for this. I can see where some people might really like it.

Ultimately, my verdict is that the book wasn't bad... it was well put together. I just felt that at times it was about nothing, and it really wasn't for my personal taste.

This is the first book I've read that works for the middle grade challenge, even though I joined in Sept. 09, lol.


Helen's Book Blog said...

Oh I am sad that you didn't like this book. It was one of my favorites. I even got my 9-year old to read it and she really liked it as well. It just shows that there are books out there for each of us and what makes a book "good" or "bad" is so subjective!

Marce said...

Interesting review, I felt a little like that after reading 13 reasons, kinda felt like maybe I was to 'old' to enjoy it.

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Thanks for your honest take :)

Sounds like you are in need of a grand book ;) I'm in very same place.

Zibilee said...

I am also not a big reader of YA fiction. I know there are some great books out there, but for some reason, I just am not interested. I am sorry to hear that this book was not a success for you. It sounds like it was all over the place plot-wise, and to tell you the truth, I probably wouldn't have liked it much either. Thanks for the honest review. It was much appreciated!

Meg said...

I've read a lot of positive reviews for this one, but am happy to see a balanced and not-so-positive one, too! I bought it a few months back and have it waiting patiently for me.

I can definitely appreciate what you mean about middle-grade novels... I absolutely love young adult, but something MG is just too young for me. It's tricky, trying to remember being 12 or 13 years old.

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