When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead is science fiction because the theme of the story is time travel. Time travel is a scientific principle that is new which contradict known laws of nature, for example Marcus abilities to travel in time as a homeless man to save Sal make this story science fiction. The book is also considered a mystery novel because Miranda receives a strange note asking her to record future events and write down the location of her spare key. As the novel progresses, she is the detective in finding out who the notes are written from. The book was published by Wendy Lamb books in 2009.
Miranda who is a sixth grade student living in New York City. She lives with her single mother and has had the same best friend ever since she was young. Soon after her best friend gets punch for no reason, Miranda discovers that her best friend no longer wants to be her friend and is sad by it. This persuades Miranda to make friends with girls at her school. Suddenly, she begins to get strange notes from a mysterious person. Miranda shrugs these notes aside and ignores them until things starts to occur that cause her to take a closer look at the notes.
Miranda soon comes to realize that the person writing the notes is a time traveler which is inspired by a book that she only reads called A Wrinkle in Time. Miranda then follows the instructions in the notes. Richard is a simple character in the story. He is the boyfriend of Miranda’s mother. He is a lawyer with a law firm that Miranda’s mother is working at. He loves Miranda’s mother and wants to marry her but he knows she has a fear of commitment. Julia is a daughter of a wealthy family. Julia is self-centered which makes her a target of jealousy.
Her parents are so self-absorb that they neglect Julia at times which leaves her to do things on her own. Julia is very smart and travels a lot so she understands time travel. She has the same interest in time travel like Miranda. However, Miranda dislikes her at first but soon learns that Julia is the way she is because she is black. Marcus is a boy who goes to school with Miranda. He is the person that punches Miranda’s best friend Sal. He tells Miranda of time traveling and he is revealed at the end of the story to be the homeless man and the person who wrote the mysterious note.
He travels in time as the homeless man to save her best friend Sal from being hit by a truck. Miranda’s Mother is also a round character in the story. She is unhappy with her career and is a single mom. She gave up being a lawyer because she gave birth to Miranda. Good luck comes her way when she is given a chance to appear on a 20,000 pyramid game show. She practice hard for it and ends up winning. She is also afraid of committing to her boyfriend Richard and does not trust him at first with the house key. Eventually when she wins the money, she is given a second chance to go to law school and finally decides to marry Richard.
Annemarie is Miranda’s friend in her class. When Sal and Miranda’s broke up, she is the first person that Miranda becomes friends with. Annemarie also at the time broke up her friendship with Julia. Annemarie is epileptic so she has to watch her diet. She has a strict father who always makes sure she eats right. She is a kind character in the story that inspires Miranda to be kind to others. Sal is Miranda’s best friend since childhood. He gets punch in the face then decided to withdraw himself from Miranda hoping to find other friends (male friends).
Miranda is heartbroken by their splits and worries about her friendship to Sal all throughout the story. Homeless man is the man sleeping under Miranda’s mailbox. This man is insane to Miranda because he would randomly yell out stuff. Miranda nick named him laughing man and quack. Colin is a boy in Miranda class. He helps Miranda and Annemarie get a job at the sandwich shop. He steals a couple buns from the bakery. He likes Miranda and kisses her which makes him kind of like her boyfriend in the story. Louisa is Sal’s mother. She like Miranda’s mother is a single mom too.
She works in a nursing home and help Miranda’s mother practice for her appearance in the game show. The protagonist in the story is Miranda because she is the main character in the story. Miranda is definitely a round character in the book because she is demonstrates many personality traits in the story. She could be compared to a real character that all children can relate to, a girl just trying to define her place in the world. She possesses real feelings like her jealousy towards Julia who comes from a wealthy family. She is a typical little girl scared of strangers like the homeless man lurking around her neighborhood.
Also, when Annemarie sleeps over, she gets a little embarrassed of her apartment like many kids who live in a poor place. She is also a great friend and a daughter who loves her mother very much. Miranda is a little confused at first by her friendship with Sal but learns throughout the story the real meaning of friendship which makes her a round character because her feelings and thoughts change throughout the course of the story. Julia is a foil character to Miranda because she has a lot in common with Miranda and wants the same things such as friendship like Miranda.
Miranda’s mother is a dynamite character in the story because she is seen to make a conscious decision to change her feelings about committing to Richard by the end of the story. Marcus was seen as an antagonist in the beginning of the story because he punches Sal but we soon learn he is also a protagonist by being a hero who saves Sal’s life. I would say the Homeless Man is a flat character in the story because he is only given one or two trait in the story. He yells out stupid things and sleeps under a mailbox.
Whether setting is integral or backdrop does not constitute a judgment about the quality of a piece of writing. What is important, however, is that understanding may develop only when we realize that this particular setting is essential to the story”. (Lukens pp. 130) The novel is set in New York City in 1978. A time when the games show $20,000 Pyramid was very popular. The city is large yet the author sets the story in a small neighborhood. Miranda and her mother’s great interest in the game show prove to be a very important theme in the story so the setting of the story compliments the plot.
“In considering the plot development, we are most aware that without sufficient conflict or tension, accompanied by suspense, foreshadowing, inevitability, a story is just plain dull. Pleasures come in all kinds of way. A good can provide them all”. (Lukens, pp. 98) Exposition-Miranda is a sixth grade student who has had the same best friend named Sal ever since she was a baby. Sal lives downstairs in the same building where Miranda and her mother live. Her mother is a single mom who works in a law firm as a receptionist but dreams of being a lawyer.
She is saddened by her position and has a fear of trust with Richard, her boyfriend. Rising Action-One day while walking home together, Sal was punched by a boy name Marcus. Sal ran home and stopped all contact with Miranda. This breakup with Sal really worries Miranda because they have been friends for a long time "Losing Sal was like a long list of bad things and somewhere in the top half of the list was the fact that I had to walk home alone past the crazy guy on our corner. " (P. 16). One afternoon when Miranda comes home from school, she finds the door to her apartment open.
Miranda is scared, but her mother must have forgotten to relock the door. Later that day, however, Miranda finds a note that reads “This is hard, harder than I expected even with your help. But I have been practicing, and my preparations go well. I am coming to save your friend’s life, and my own. I ask two favors. First, you must write me a letter. Second, please remember to mention the location of your house key. The trip is a difficult one. I will not be myself when I reach you” (p. 60) sticking out of her schoolbook, she is confused and frightened by the note.
She tells her mother about the note and went to check the spare that they usually have hidden in the fire hole and the spare key was gone, Miranda was shocked. Miranda doesn’t want to walk home alone so she befriends Annemarie, a girl in her class who becomes Miranda’s first female friend. Annemarie like Miranda just broke off her friendship with her friend too, Julia. In a short time, Miranda and Annemarie become good friends. At home, Miranda's mother is excited in becoming a contestant on a television show called the $20,000 Pyramid. Every night Miranda and Richard, help her mom practice for the show.
Rising Action-Soon, Miranda's mother receives a postcard notifying her that she has been scheduled to appear on the show in April. Miranda makes another friend in school name Colin. Colin gets Annemarie and Miranda a job at the local sandwich shop during lunch hours and as a payment, they get a free sandwich and soda. He warns them not to look inside his ceramic bank but one day at the sandwich shop, Colin decided to look inside. He finds a dozens of two dollar bills folded into triangles. Miranda is not happy with Colin’s behavior fearful that they will eventually get caught.
While they work there, they also make friends with a girl name Julia who comes to the shop on a daily basis. The owner doesn’t like Julia there and refuses to give her a job. Miranda is also not a fan of Julia because she thinks Julia is self –centered. Miranda then finds a second note in a bread bag while she was working addressed to her that tells her not to talk to anyone about these notes and to write a story that contains information that has not yet happened. These notes ask Miranda to write a story, but Miranda has no idea who these notes could be from.
She wonders to herself “Why was I the one getting notes? Why did I have to do something about whatever bad thing was going to happen? I didn't even understand what I was supposed to do! Write a letter about something that hadn't happened yet? " (p. 111) Falling Action-Miranda, Annemarie and Colin soon gets fired from the sandwich shop because the owner found out about someone stole the ceramic bank filled with two dollar bills. They soon find out that the owner is a racist against black people because he suspects Julia to be the thief.
Miranda starts to feel sympathy for Julia and understands why she is the way she is. Miranda meets Marcus, the guy who punched Sal in school. Miranda attempts to befriend Marcus but finds him often distracted and unaware of what is going on around him. It occurs to Miranda to tell Sal he should not fear Marcus, but she decides not to because Sal has stopped being her friend. Life for Miranda is shaping up. She has made new friends and is nice to people. Days came and went and she receives a third note in her coat pocket.
It writes that if she wanted proof, to check in a friend’s bag at three o’clock, Christmas day, April 27 studio T. V fifteen. Puzzled by the clues, she is skeptical but continues to ignore them and move along. Christmas day came and she received a book called “The Wrinkle in Time” signed by the author and she immediately thought about the clues in the third letter. Climax-She eventually learns a few days later what these notes really meant when she observe Sal almost get hit by a truck but the homeless man push Sal out of the way and he dies instead.
Miranda finally finds final note in a pair of shoes that once belonged to Richard but were worn by the homeless man who saved Sal's life. The mystery is solved and Miranda knows that it was the homeless guy who wrote the note all along. Miranda and Sal become friends again and Miranda’s mother won ten thousand dollars from the game show which gave her confidences to go back to law school. Resolution-Miranda then realizes that Marcus traveled back in time as the homeless man to save her best friend Sal from getting hit by the truck.
Marcus is guilty of punching Sal in the beginning so he comes back to make amend. When I first picked up the book and read a couple chapters, I could sort of predict what was going to happen because of the mysterious notes found by Miranda so I think the story is explicit. But then it is also implicit because I could have not known what the outcome was if I didn’t read the entire book. The narrator got me guessing and wondering all the way until the end. The theme of time travel in the book is so obvious because Miranda’s favorite book in the story is A Wrinkle in Time.
The book introduces readers to time travel which is revealed in the mysterious notes that Miranda was receiving throughout the story. Each note predicted events which allow readers to grasp at the idea of time travel. Time travel is an important theme of the book because at the end, Miranda believes that the homeless man was her friend Marcus and that Marcus traveled in time to save Sal and is the person who wrote the notes that supports Miranda’s belief. Ambition is also a theme in this book because Miranda’s mother dream was to be a lawyer but she dropped out of school when she was pregnant with Miranda.
With a little luck on her side, Miranda’s mother knew that the $20,000 pyramid game show was her key to get back on her feet so she practiced everyday to prepare herself on the game show. She eventually gets on the show and wins thousand dollars that encourages her to go back to law school. Friendship is a main theme in the story because Miranda learns the true meaning of friendship as the story ends. She first has only one friend Sal since childhood. When she and Sal broke off, she was force to seek other friends like Annemarie, Colin, Marcus and Julia.
The silly fights between each of them are examples of a friendship. Sal and Miranda’s relationship is a great example of true friendship because even though they were apart for a short period, Miranda’s worries about Sal all the time. Sal later then tells Miranda why he ignored her. He tells her that he did it because since they have been friends for so long, he wanted to find male friends of his own. They eventually make up and become friends. Miranda also discovers the joy of having other female friends and for this reason; friendship remains an important theme in the book.
The book is written in a first person point of view because Miranda is the main character that narrates the story. She tells the story as if she is writing to the person the mysterious person herself. The notes puzzle her until the end of the story. The first person point of view allows reader to relate to Miranda. As I was reading the book, I was just as frustrated like Miranda as to why someone would leave a mysterious note. I felt a sense of closeness to Miranda and care about her well-being. Her struggles were also my struggles.
The book style is divided in chapters which are short and simple for young readers to read. This book is great for grades 4-6 because the plot is very evocative of familiar grade-school issues for example, Miranda making new friends but it also has enough nuances to keep older readers engaged. The book is written in both clear description of each characters and dialogue. The author uses foreshadowing and flashbacks in the book for example, she provides hints of future events detailed in each mysterious note, also in the beginning of the story when the narrator recall certain events that happen months ago.
The book has a main plot and many subplots which are written so well to compliment the ending of the story. Words to describe the tone of the story would be happy and suspenseful. I felt happy that Miranda mother’s won the money to go back to school; Miranda’s ability to make new friends and Sal is saved by the homeless man, Suspenseful because I could not put the book down until the very ending. I felt a little sad as well because the homeless man had to sacrifice his own life just to save another (Sal).
His death made me a little uneasy because the author makes him out to be a very lonely man in the story. Miranda is scared of him so nick named him Quack and she is uncomfortable when he is around yet he does save a boy’s life at the end which makes story sad. The book is an excellent book for young readers of all ages and of all cultural background. Kids all around the world can relate to this book because the theme of the book carries a positive message about friendship. The theme of friendship plays a crucial part in society today and the book focuses on the importance of friendship.
The book tells a story of how a child’s imagination is expanded and it demonstrates what a childlike Miranda might be going through in Middle school. The fear of making new friends, having friends, a tragedy, the cattiness, jealousy, superficial, bullying and being a child without both parents can have an effect on a child’s personal emotions and how they view the world. Miranda was saddened by the breakup with Sal but in time, she understands that it’s okay to make new friends.
She hated Julia at first and was jealous that Julia had come from a wealthy family yet her feelings changed for Julia as she later understand the nature of Julia’s behavior. The book also gives readers a sense of hope and second chances like when Miranda’s mom won the money and is inspired to go back to school. After reading the book, I felt happy for Miranda. This book is relevant in the lives of children because this book helps children to understand the true meaning of friendship and also the struggles of being a sixth grader trying to make new friends in schools.