When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Miranda is a latch key kid, meaning she has a key to let her into the house after school. All her life she's been best friends with the boy upstairs, Sal. Something happens that changes everything, and starts her on a mysterious journey to "save a friend's life."

It all started the day Sal got punched. One day as they walked home from school, this random kid walked up to Sal and punched him, for no reason! Next thing Miranda knows, Sal doesn't want to be friends anymore. As luck would have it, one of the girls in her class suddenly needs someone to sit next to at lunch, and they strike up a friendship. Annemarie is someone she can depend on to be there, and the two of them serve as a source of strength for each other.

Miranda comes home one day to find the door to the apartment unlocked. Nothing seems to have been taken, and it seems maybe they forgot to lock it before they left, until Miranda finds the first note in a library book. It says (among other things), "I am coming to save your friend's life, and my own," (Stead pg. 60, 2009). She finds the second note a few days later, asking her to tell a story and to keep these notes to herself. Is someone watching her? What is going on?

It turns out the boy who punched Sal goes to her school! She runs into him while running errands for the school dentist. His name is Marcus, and he seems like a pretty weird (if really smart) kid. They talk about A Wrinkle in Time, her all-time favorite book, and time travel, but she still doesn't understand what his connection to Sal is...or why he punched him.

The third note offers proof that the note writer can predict the future. Is that even possible? Miranda starts to get really confused, but she can't deny the validity of the note's claims. Everything happens just as predicted. She isn't sure what is going on. Her mom is chosen to participate on The $20,000 Pyramid, and Miranda is preoccupied with helping her prepare. She doesn't know what will happen, or why, but as events start to unfold, the ending is unexpected and truly fitting.

Beautifully written, this title received the Newberry Medal for 2010. Great for mystery lovers, reluctant readers, and fans of time travel.
This is hard. Harder than I expected, even with your help. But I have been practicing, and my preparations go well. I am coming to save your friend's life,
and my own.
I ask two favors.
First, you must write me a letter.
Second, please remember to mention the location of your house key.
The trip is a difficult one. I will not be myself when I reach you," (Stead pg. 60, 2009).
*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle
13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
The Sixty-Eight Rooms by Marianne Malone

Stead, Rebecca. (2009). When You Reach Me. New York, NY: Wendy Lamb Books (Random House).

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