Thursday, July 1, 2010

Book Review -- When You Reach Me

When You Reach Me When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead


My rating: 3 of 5 stars






Author Rebecca Stead has created a totally unique juvenile novel featuring time travel, middle school angst, friendship, and of all things, Dick Clark and ‘70s game show, The $20,000 Pyramid.

Sixth grader Miranda, has to navigate a neglected friendship with neighbor Sal, a budding friendship with classmate Annemarie, and a conflicted friendship with Julia – all the while try to help her mother “practice” for her upcoming appearance on the game show, The $20,000 Pyramid AND figure out who the heck has been sending her very freaky and cryptic notes.

I’m not sure what to say about this novel – on one hand it was great:

• I loved Miranda’s spunk; she was a delightful character to follow, as was her mother and her group of rag-tag friends, supporting cast of school employees and Jimmy, the deli counter guy.

• I loved the time period – I was a grade schooler in the ‘70’s – so the essence of the book was very familiar and comforting – and who my age hasn’t watched The $20,000 Pyramid at least a gazillion times. And it’s true, Dick Clark never ages (at least until recently when he had his stroke).

On the other hand, I thought it was odd:

• The time travel thing just didn’t work for me. I understand that the author was trying to pay homage to A Wrinkle in Time – dare I say I’m not too fond of that book either (is that literary sacrilege?). But it was awkward and confusing.

• And who was the audience for this book? Once again, all of the 5 star reviews are primarily from adult, white women -- are the 9-12 year olds (for whom this book is intended), liking it as much at the adult audience? I can’t answer that – because I don’t think they have Goodreads accounts. I do know this book would be over the head of my 9 year old and the majority of our Mother/Daughter book group participants. And when I read juv fiction – that’s who I’m trying to “channel.”

So, it was quirky and somewhat endearing, but it didn’t meet my expectations.

Book source: Public library

When You Reach Me was the 2010 Newbery Award Winner.

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