Wednesday, March 17, 2010

When You Reach Me - Book Review

I first heard of the novel, When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, when I saw its name on several lists of the best novels for children from 2009. It found its way onto my reading list, and I recently completed. Wow! It was a really good book. I can't quite give it five out of five stars because it didn't quite meet my expectation (which were pretty hight.) The story was wonderful, but I think the author (not me but actually this particular author) could have told it better.

That said, she still did a great job! Short choppy chapters show us bits and pieces of characters in a New York City neighborhood in the '70's. These short and choppy chapters, and bits and pieces somehow do a great job of creating fully developed characters. As the story progresses, both going forward and using a lot of back story, a mystery is slowly created, and we see seemingly random individuals lives connect and intertwine in ways that are both highly unbelievable and somehow completely believable. I don't want to tell to much because it is essential that you start at the beginning to get to the end.

Although this book has definitely been written with the intermediate ages (10-13 perhaps) in mind, I think this is a book that needs some prior knowledge to get everything you can out of it making it most suited to teens and adults. On the other had, an intelligent and curious child might have new avenues of exploration opened by this story leading to a desire to reread it after tangents have been explored and thought threads connected.

I highly recommend When You Reach Me not only for children but for people of all ages looking for a really good story!

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