Thursday 15 April 2010

When You Reach Me - Rebecca Stead

When You Reach Me
Rebecca Stead
Wendy Lamb Books
an Imprint of
Random House
ISBN 9780385737425

I love Madeleine L'Engle and her book A Wrinkle In Time. This book makes numerous references to both. When I met Madeleine L'Engle at a conference a few years ago she stated that her characters are alive to her, and every now and again she will realize something new happened in their life. This book has that feel; as I read it, and even after finishing, I found myself thinking about the characters - where they are now, what they are up to. I think L'Engle would have loved that about this book.

The story takes place in a very small geographic region in New York City, focusing around a 6th grade girl Miranda, her friends and family. She finds a note indicating that the author is trying to save her friend's life and their own life. The author of the note indicates that they know the future and give her dates and times of events yet to happen to prove they are telling the truth. What they are asking for in return is that Miranda tells them her story, specifically that she write it out and when the time comes she will know who to give it to.

The story is wonderfully written from Miranda's perspective, looking back on the past few months. It is about lifting the veil between what we perceive and what is real, what is actual and what is possible. It is about the potential in humans for growth and change. C.S. Lewis stated "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face." This book helps to wipe some of the dirt and grime off the glass and allows us to see a little more clearly. Yes it is true the story became predictable, especially for a fan of L'Engle, but the way it happens still makes it worth reading. It is a wonderful book - a book about hope, a book about change and a book about coming into yourself. If Stead's writings continue to ask questions like this one, does she have the potential to become a favourite author of mine, and maybe even a legend like L'Engle?

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