I love when I read a book’s last page and think wow, and I want to go back to page one and start over, looking for clues and re-working the mystery. Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me is one of those books. My daughter and I took turns reading it to each other. Lucky kid: She got to stay up late all those nights because I couldn’t put the book down. (A precedent has been set. Now, when I tell her lights out, she insists, “But I can’t put it down!” Captain Underpants? Really?)
Stead’s middle grade novel is like Audrey Niffenegger’s Time Traveler’s Wife for tweens. That description, however, underrates the book’s sophistication. Stead writes a clever guessing game I couldn’t figure out. When the end finally reveals all – in its quiet way – I was thrilled. There were no tricks or ridiculous plot turns.
When You Reach Me is the book you want your friends to read so you can discuss its complexities over several glasses of wine. And with fancy cheese so you feel refined in your writing uniform (jeans and a sweatshirt).
I didn’t discover the library’s best-kept secret. Stead won a Newbery and, from a quick scan of the inside cover, about a thousand other honors. When my daughter brought home her book order sheet last month, she couldn’t make a decision. She asked for my input. I pointed out the books with the gold circle on them. “That’s a Newbery,” I told her. “The gold circle means you’ll probably love it.”
And that’s how When You Reach Me came to us.
So, for all of my (three) readers, buy the book. Stead deserves the royalty.
Of course she’s got a cool web site. Check it out here.