Saturday, 20 April 2013

Book Review - When You Reach Me

Title: When You Reach Me
Author: Rebecca Stead
Publisher: Andersen
Release Date: 6 Jan 2011
ISBN-13: 978-1849392129

Miranda's life is starting to unravel. Her best friend, Sal, gets punched by a kid on the street for what seems like no reason, and he shuts Miranda out of his life. The key that Miranda's mum keeps hidden for emergencies is stolen. And then a mysterious note arrives:
'I am coming to save your friend's life, and my own.
I ask two favours. First, you must write me a letter.'

The notes keep coming, and Miranda slowly realises that whoever is leaving them knows things no one should know. Each message brings her closer to believing that only she can prevent a tragic death. Until the final note makes her think she's too late.

My Review
I saw a review for this on on a blog I follow a lot 'Girls Heart Books' which said they had used it with a book group and it spurred a lot of discussion. As I run a book group I thought I would request it from the library to give it a try.
My first reaction to finishing this book was 'What?!' I honestly had no idea what I had just read. I was confused and not entirely sure what the point was. But let me go back a bit. 
The storyline is set in 1978/79 and follows the story of Miranda. Miranda is a 6th Grader who absolutely loves the book 'A Wrinkle in Time' which I will confess right now that I have never read it. She constantly re-reads the story but I'm not sure she particularly understands everything in it, the time travel seems to confuse her a little bit.
Miranda starts to receive mysterious notes which know things they shouldn't be able to know.
I have to admit to being confused throughout the book, I couldn't see where it was going. It was set up as a 'mystery'- with Miranda trying to find out who sent the notes, what they meant, why her friend stopped talking to her, what it's like to grow up, and what to do with the notes. But to be honest I wasn't particularly curious, I was just waiting for everything to come together but then when it did I didn't particularly care. 
Saying that I didn't hate the book or anything, it was fairly easy to read and quit short. The characters each had their own charm, some I liked more than others. Marcus I found the most interesting, but it just seemed to drag a bit and jump off on random information.
It all comes down to the question of time-travel. I've said before I'm not a fan of time-travel in stories and I have to be really interested and it has to be done in a certain way to captivate me and this just didn't.

There is a sub-plot to the story, Miranda's mother has been chosen to appear on the Pyramid Game on TV. I have actually heard of this and quite enjoy it. Basically it's a word association game where you get given words and have to guess what associates them. Miranda helps her mum practice and I enjoyed their easy relationship, and it was a fun input in the book but it didn't really seem all that relevant to the actual story apart from the link with one of the letters.

Maybe if I had read 'A Wrinkle in Time' I would have enjoyed it more, maybe it just wasn't my sort of read but I just didn't get it. It just left me feeling confused and a bit deflated.
The chapters would make interesting discussion as each one is a 'category' like off the game show, e.g 'Things you hide', 'things that are yellow', etc. I can see my book group coming up with funny things to fit. 

My Rating

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