This is another of those books that Melissa Wiley recommended. I am so, so glad I leapt to put it on hold at our library. I started it Thursday night at bedtime and read a few chapters. I finished it Friday afternoon during the kids’ naps. When I finished it I simultaneously wanted to go tell everyone about how cool it was and flip back to the beginning to re-read it. And I never re-read. Not right away. I usually need a year at least between readings of a book.
I didn’t start re-reading because it was time to make dinner. But I was floating for the next hour or so on a sort of novel-induced high. Most of the time when I finish a good book, I get down because I’m sad it ended, wishing there had been more. This one didn’t have that effect. Instead it left me feeling completely satisfied the way you do after a perfect meal. The ending was spot-on.
First, this was a beautiful homage to Madeleine L’Engle. Miranda, the protagonist, is in love with A Wrinkle in Time and has read her battered copy over and over again and the novel plays a key role in the unfolding of the plot.
Strangely, When You Reach Me reminds me of Nick Hornby’s About a Boy. Except, ironically because this is a children’s book, this feels to me like a more mature handling of the themes of friendship and interconnectedness. It also reminds me very loosely of what I liked about The Time Traveler’s Wife. Except without the bits of that novel that I found problematic.
I wish I could go on in detail but, like Lissa, I’m afraid that to gush too much will be to give away what you should discover for yourself.
I will say that I thought the narrator’s voice was spot-on. She is the perfect unreliable narrator. Not because she is deceitful in any way but the way she tells the story, the way the events unfold for the reader, is the result of her inability to grasp the problems of paradox. The narrative is rather messy but in a perfectly beautiful way. The mess is not the result of sloppy writing rather, Miranda is untidy in her thinking. Stead is always perfectly in control of the narrative. (Rather unlike my review but I simply do not have the time to craft a response worthy of the book.)
Go read Lissa’s review or, even better, go get the book and read it for yourself.