On August 25, our wonderful group of young adult fiction lovers gathered to discuss Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me. All of us enjoyed this thought-provoking book. (Quick spoiler alert: I’m writing so those of you who have read the book can follow along. If you don’t want to read referenced details, skip the section below.) Here are some main topics that came up:
- How Stead strikes a balance with Miranda’s perceptiveness. Miranda catches on to a lot of adult realizations, such as the concept of her mother’s career frustration. Yet at the same time, she is somewhat oblivious to the events at school such as differences in boy-girl adolescent friendships, social class tensions, and racial prejudice. This well-balanced approach makes Miranda likeable and also believable.
- The light touch used with regards to time travel. We talked about how it was explained simply, but was also tough to grasp. We laughed a little at how Julia seemed to “get it” so much faster than we did. Some found the chapter layout a little disorienting.
- That the book has something for everyone. We could all relate to some aspect of the story such as friendships, romance, family relationships, or coming-of-age. Even though this book is geared for 11-14, we thought that older readers might enjoy the story if it was available to them—such as borrowing from a younger sibling.
- Stead’s attention to detail. The narrative could have been too far-reaching, and we commended the use of “clues”: a short leg here, a bank of dollar bills there…it all worked for us!
- We had mixed reviews on the ending. Everyone could agree that all the pieces fell well into place, but we were undecided on whether the style of the ending was a letdown or the natural conclusion.
- An interesting side effect is that we all were considering rereading A Wrinkle in Time.
Join us next month on Tuesday, September 29 to discuss our next pick. We’ll be reading KL Going’s King of the Screwups. Liam suffers from the trials and tribulations of too much popularity in high school. You’ll enjoy the unique characters and humorous moments in this post-millennial bildungsroman.
Would you like to join us? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 703-548-4092. We can order and hold copies of the book for you.
Not located in the area? Don’t worry, we’ll be posting discussion notes after the meeting. We would love to know what you think of the book, and you can let us know here on the blog.
King of the Screwups, Harcourt, $17.00
If you read When You Reach Me, we would be thrilled to hear your thoughts in the comments!