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When You Reach Me    by Rebecca Stead order for
When You Reach Me
by Rebecca Stead
Order:  USA  Can
Wendy Lamb Books, 2009 (2009)
Hardcover, CD

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Miranda, the narrator of Rebecca Stead's When You Reach Me is a twelve-year-old latchkey child who lives with her single mother in New York city. Stead begins by quoting Albert Einstein, who wrote: 'The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious.' Then the story's opening intrigues as it informs us that Mira's mother has been accepted as a contestant on The $20,000 Pyramid TV show - and that this was predicted in mysterious notes Mira has been receiving.

Mira likes her mother's lawyer boyfriend Richard. Mom calls him Mr. Perfect, but is reluctant to give him his own key to their shoddy apartment. Mom wants to become a criminal defense lawyer but circumstances force her to work as a paralegal at Richard's small law office. Mira is unhappy because Sal, her best friend since childhood, recently rejected her after being bullied on their way home from school - now she has to walk alone past the crazy laughing man on the corner.

Mira's life begins to change. She becomes close to Annemarie, whose own friendship with Julia has grown rocky. She also befriends Marcus, the boy who punched Sal, and learns why he did it. She begins to see many of the people around her differently and to understand them better. Then Mira starts to receive the mysterious notes (that predict future events and ask her to write an important letter) and there are other odd happenings. Will she act as requested? What will happen if she doesn't?

The story evolves to show Mira maturing from a typically self-centered sixth grader into a more thoughtful person, who solves the mystery with which she's been presented - and ties all loose threads together for readers - in time to save someone she deeply cares about. When You Reach Me is an intriguing and engaging read.

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