I finished this book yesterday and I've been trying ever since to come up with the best way to review Rebecca Stead's When You Reach Me. By now, everybody's most likely heard that it won the Newberry Medal this year and it well deserved. It's a wonderfully beautifully written story. I'm going to try but there's no way I can do this story justice.
Miranda is in sixth grade. At first she thinks she's got life figured out but things start to fall apart. Her best friend, Sal, no longer wants to be friends with her after being punched by a stranger on their way home from school for no reason. So Miranda is stuck making new friends and learning how to handle being a latchkey kid after school without Sal to keep her company. Then, one day, mysterious notes began appearing. The first one says, "I am coming to save your friend's life, and my own. I ask two favors. First you must write me a letter." As the story goes on, Miranda realizes that this person knows things about her that there's no way he should know. Who exactly is he? And what does he want from her?
The characters in When You Reach Me are so real and ordinary that I had no problem putting myself in Miranda's shoes. Miranda goes to school, hangs out with friends, helps her mom prepare for The $20,000 Pyramid, refuses to read any book but A Wrinkle in Time (when I finished this book, I was wishing my copy of A Wrinkle in Time was handy so that I could go back and reread it). Stead so deftly weaves in a sci-fi/fantasy element to this story that as a reader, you hardly notice it's showing up until it hits you in the face.
I borrowed this book from the library but I know without a doubt that I will be buying a copy for my library. It's a definite keeper and rereader.