Book review: When You Reach Me

Who would have thought that doing your tax return late would pay off? Take that husband who always tut-tutts when I do things last minute.

I was telling Text Publishing the next day by email that I’d written a note to my future self reminding her of what my login details for the IRD website were and they suggested I might like to read When you Reach Me. Then they sent me a copy in the post.

When you Reach Me isn’t new – it was published by Text in February 2010 – but it is good. In fact, I’d rate it in the top two of the 15 books I’ve read this year.

This is a tightly written, beautiful book about a group of 11-12 year old kids, the neighbourhood they live in and the strange and unexpected events that happen there.

On their website, Text say;

“Miranda and Sal are best friends, but when Sal gets punched by a new kid for no apparent reason, he shuts Miranda out of his life. Then she finds a mysterious note scrawled on a tiny slip of paper:

I am coming to save your friend’s life, and my own.
I ask two favours. First, you must write me a letter.

Miranda finds other notes left for her in strange places and she realises that whoever is leaving them knows all about her, including things that haven’t even happened yet…”

I found the characters in When you Reach Me believable and they act and think in the way I remember myself as a child – with a curiosity about the world but also with an innocence. Some of the innocence probably comes from the story being set in the 1970s – there’s no hoochy track pants, no cell phones and the word ‘tween’ hadn’t been invented by marketing companies yet.

Kids still walk home from school, there’s few things more interesting than a friend’s bedroom and a mystery doesn’t have to involve a dead body, a vampire or an alien. When You Reach Me is a story about friendship and time. The mystery at the core of the book flicks around the edges for a long time before revealing itself. I didn’t see it coming and the reveal is more a subtle unfurling than a ‘ta-da’ showpiece to make the book relevant.

Once I’d read When you Reach Me I logged it in my Good Reads profile and found my friend Courtney has also read it and rated it five stars. It turns out we’ve both been raving about it and trying to encourage friends to read it – it’s that kind of book. The kind of book you can read in a day but that will stay with you. The kind of book that will answer when someone says, ‘what should I read next?.’

Look for When you Reach Me in the Young Adult section – I bought Unity Books Wellington’s copy last week for a friend’s birthday and will no doubt return for a few for Christmas presents too.

When You Reach Me
by Rebecca Stead
Published by Text Publishing
ISBN 9781921656064

by Emma McCleary, Web Editor at Booksellers NZ

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2 thoughts on “Book review: When You Reach Me

  1. Pingback: Books that are about the importance and love of books and words |

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