When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
Review by Teresa Schmidt, librarian
At first, Miranda seems like she's facing what any young teen in New York in the 1970s might deal with: not enough money, too much time on her hands, a single working mom trying to make ends meet, a best friend who's suddenly stopped talking to her, and the homeless man on the corner making her nervous each time she walks by. As her story progresses, however, we find that Miranda is looking at a situation altogether not normal.
When she receives the first note, Miranda thinks it must be a dark prank. "I am coming to save your friend's life, and my own." The notes keep coming, each containing details of events that haven't happened yet. Now Miranda doesn't just have to navigate the world of middle school: she has to worry about preventing a friend's death, too. But which friend, and how, and when? The mystery unravels slowly, leading to just the right ending that makes you wonder how you didn't see it coming all along.
The Mercer Library has this one filed under J F for "juvenile fiction," but I think it appeals to a wider audience -- late elementary school students will appreciate the mystery, middle school students will feel for Miranda as she struggles to fit in with her classmates and make a place for herself, and parents like me will be reminded of their own childhood as Rebecca Stead describes the autonomous world of kids in the 70s, a world that today's kids unfortunately don't get to explore. This is a book to share with those around you!