When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Find in catalogMy favorite kinds of books are the ones that teach you things about yourself that you’ve always known but didn’t quite realize until you read them. It’s like this: A good book shows you something new about the world, but a great book shows you something new about yourself. Maybe that’s why I love When You Reach Me so much. If it hadn’t been a library copy, I would have highlighted all the passages that resonated with me–there were a lot–and then I could have written them here to show you what I mean. These are the kinds of things that really should be quoted. Okay, since I like the book so much, I’ll go look for one. (Spoiler alert?) I didn’t find the exact quote, but there’s this bit about how Miranda notices that she cries sometimes when she’s caught off-guard. And I hadn’t thought about it like that until I read it, and then I realized I was the same for me. Especially when I was in sixth grade–like Miranda. Suddenly this little detail of my life made sense. Plus, there’s the other quotes that are bigger and deeper and easier to find if you Google them. Like this one: “Mom says each of us has a veil between ourselves and the rest of the world, like a bride wears on her wedding day, except this kind of veil is invisible. We walk around happily with these invisible veils hanging down over our faces. The world is kind of blurry, and we like it that way. But sometimes our veils are pushed away for a few moments, like there’s a wind blowing it from our faces. And when the veil lifts, we can see the world as it really is, just for those few seconds before it settles down again. We see all the beauty, and cruelty, and sadness, and love. But mostly we are happy not to. Some people learn to lift the veil themselves. Then they don’t have to depend on the wind anymore.” See what I mean?

This is the kind of story that you can’t sum up in a marketing blurb for Amazon or jacket copy. It’s the kind of narrative that’s made whole by the powerful voice of an intelligent character with real observations about what it means to be human. To Rebecca Stead–nice work. Five out of Five.

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