Thursday, December 17, 2009

Review + GIVEAWAY: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Tags: MG, YA, sci-fi, NYC, mystery

Rating: 4.5 out of 5


By the sixth grade, Miranda has learned how to get by in New York City. She and her only friend Sal walk to school together, avoiding the big loud boys in front of the garage and the laughing man on the corner. But then one of the boys punches Sal, and everything starts to change. Sal refuses to hang out with Miranda anymore, and she is forced to make new friends and explore different things in school.

Miranda also starts receiving mysterious letters from a person who knows eerily too much about her life and the future. Who is this person who wants Miranda to write an explanatory letter, claiming that she knows who he is? He claims to know how to save her friend’s life…but who is in danger, and what will become of them all if Miranda either ignores or acknowledges the letter-writer?


Every once in a while there comes along a book that is so unique, so awe-inspiring, that you have to immediately rave about it to everyone around who reads books. WHEN YOU REACH ME is such a book. Rebecca Stead’s second novel is a middle-grade treasure that people will hopefully stumble upon and love all their lives.

My favorite part about this book was, of course, the sci-fi aspect, which was seamlessly woven into a coming-of-age story set in post-Vietnam War New York City. WHEN YOU REACH ME references Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time heavily, a joy for hardcore fans of Meg and Charles Wallace. It also means that it will appeal to about 95% of readers, though Stead’s appeal is less fantasy and more about how seemingly impossible concepts can fit smoothly into our conceptions of our world. It’s not often that you get to read a science-y book that blows away all your expectations and predictions.

Besides for the sci-fi aspect, WHEN YOU REACH ME is also a charming coming-of-age novel with memorable characters. Miranda deals wonderfully with her family and classmates: she’s at that stage where she struggles to figure out who she thought she was in new situations. Perhaps the characters could’ve been developed slightly more, but readers come out of the experience very much impressed, and will have difficulty finding anything lacking.

In short, WHEN YOU REACH ME is one of 2009’s not-to-be-missed novel. Its lovely blend of realism and sci-fi makes it truly stand out, and Stead’s impeccable writing draws us right into Miranda’s world. Be sure to get your hands on a copy of this book in any way possible!

Similar Authors
Madeleine L'Engle
E. L. Konigsburg
Sharon Creech

Writing: 5/5
Characters: 4/5
Plot: 5/5

Overall rating: 4.5 out of 5

Cover discussion: 3 out of 5 - It's charming in its own way, but does not really evoke the feel of the story for me. Oh well! It's distinctive, and the story will make an impression on you. What more do you need?

Random House / July 2009 / Hardcover / $15.99



OH HEY LOOK! A chance to win one of 2 copies of When You Reach Me, right here on my blog, thanks, once again, to the generosity of Random House!!! When I said that this was one book you can't miss, even I didn't realize how soon you would have the opportunity to read and own your very own copy, hehe.

To enter, leave a comment with your email address and the answer to this question: Why are you interested in reading this book?

***No email address and no answer to the question, no entry into the giveaway.***

For extra entries:
+1 if you follow me
+1 if you blog/Facebook status/sidebar link to this giveaway (+1 for each)
+1 if you tweet about this giveaway and mention me (@stephxsu)

All entries can be typed into one comment. Since this is a publisher-sponsored giveaway, I am restricting it to US mailing addresses only, no PO boxes. Enter by Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2009. Good luck!


  1. I would love to read this book because I like when real life is combined with SIFI. It makes the book better.


    +1 I am a follower

  2. Tweeted +1


  3. I would love to read this book because it seems refreshingly different from other ya books.

    Also it sounds interesting! :)

  4. +1 I follow you

  5. +1 I posted a blog entry about this giveaway

  6. +1 I tweeted about this giveaway

  7. I would like to win this book because first of all it sounds really good. And I've never heard of the author before and I like being introduced to new writers.


  8. I am a follower


  9. I've lived in NYC and I'm a huge Wrinkle in Time fan! Your review made the book sound intriguing.

    I also follow you. :-)

    Thanks a lot.

  10. Hi Steph! Please enter me!! :)
    bethrevis (at)

    I want to read this book because everyone says I should--especially the people who give really honest, harsh reviews usually seem to love this, so I definitely want to read it now!

    +1 if you follow me

  11. +1 follower.
    +1 tweeted:


    I'd like to read this book because I loved A Wrinkle In Time and it sounds alittle romantic with the hole Sal ignoring her and stuff. Oh, and because the front cover has a giant book, key, && shoe on it!(:

  12. To enter, leave a comment with your email address and the answer to this question: Why are you interested in reading this book?


    I recently heard great things about this book, so I went over to Amazon and checked it out. In short, it looks pretty amazing, so I'm definitely looking forward to this one.

    +1 for stalking (er, I mean following) your blog

    Thanks for the contest!

  13. Honestly, this book didn't really capture my attention at first. But I've read so many fantastic reviews from bloggers that it's edged its way onto my TBR! (Not the greatest reason, but yay bloggers!)Thanks for the chance to win!

    firstnovelsclub [at] gmail [dot] com

    +1 follower
    +1 First Novels Club sidebar

  14. I've heard nothing but great buzz about this book! I like the sound of the mystery element.

    +1 following

    modealapie at

  15. I really want to read this because I've seen so many great reviews for it! The premise sounds great too and I really like the cover :)


  16. +1 follower

    I'm a sucker for romance mixed with intrigue! I've also been having reading block (haven't been able to complete an entire novel in 2 months!). This book may very well break the block :)


  17. I want to read this book b/c I have checked it out befor eat the library and returned it unread (too many books out at once). I keep hearing more and more buzz about it, so I want to be in the loop :-)


    aprildeaton (at) gmail (dot) com

  18. +1 am a follower

    aprildeaton (at) gmail (dot) com

  19. I want to read this because it sounds unique!

    +1 if you follow me

  20. I loved this book. Even though the sci-fi kinda confused me. It was Great! Love the review.

  21. I want to read this book because I haven't read a lot of MG books and this sounds like a fantastic book to get me interested!

    +1 I follow you
    +1 I linked it in the sidebar of my blog

    Thanks for hosting such an awesome contest!

  22. I am interested in reading this book because coming of age stories appeal to me, and I have so far heard only praises for Rebecca Stead's When You Reach Me. And of course, a dash of sci-fi only makes the book even more delicious! Gah!

    Amy Chang

  23. +following

    I am interested in this book because I am wild about science fiction, A Wrinkle in Time and The 25,000 Pyramid. =)

    librarymaggi at gmail dot com

  24. Madwoman-doing-cartwheelsDecember 18, 2009 at 8:24 AM

    This sounds like an enchanting book. I love L'Engle's work so where there is a comparison then my radar goes on. The holiday season is a great time to be charmed by a wonderfully recommended book.

    +1 more as I'm an old follower also

    rubymonstone at gmail dot com

  25. I would LOVE to win this!
    Thankyou!! :D:D:D
    I would LOVE to have this because I LOVE Madeleine L'Engle and I want to read any books that are like her.


  26. I'd like to read this because I love mid-grade books, and it just sounds really good. ^_^

    +1 follower
    +1 linked on my sidebar

    eclecticdahlia [at] aol [dot] com

  27. Because I just read your 09 recommendations and says its the most original book you've read! And I've heard about it being awesome all around..

    +1 if you follow me
    +1 sidebar:

    yabliss AT gmail DOT com

  28. I would like to own this book because I LOVE IT. I've already read it, but I would love to own it because it is one of the BEST reads of 2009, hand down.

    +1 I follow you!
    +1 for a tweet! @lulu_bella

  29. I would love to read this book:) I think it's really different from other books and its synopsis kind of reminded me of How to Say Goodbye in Robot, which I want to read too!

    +1 I follow!
    Thanks a lot:)

  30. I'm interested in reading this book because I enjoyed it the first time, but think it needs a second, third, fourth, etc reading to see all the goodness in the story.


  31. Because it completely deserves the hype!

    jpetroroy at gmail dot com

    +1 follower

  32. No need to enter me - I already own it, but I want to say that I completely agree with your review. I LOVED this book! The way it was put together was amazing.

  33. I'd like to read this book, because you are raving about it!

    +1 I follow

    +1 Blogged:

    nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

  34. I would like to read this for two reasons: one it takes place in New York which I love and the second is your review. You really made me want to read it! Thanks for the chance!

    kdhaney At gmail dot com

  35. I follow on Google Friend Connect but forgot to say it in my first post...sorry

    kdhaney AT gmail dot com

  36. The book sounds intriguing- I love anything set in New York and I'm a huge Wrinkle in Time fan, so I know I'll get a kick out of the references.

    Thanks for the contest!

    +1 I'm a follower
    +1 tweet

    email jessicacapelle at gmail dot com

  37. I want to read this book because when Steph says it's not to be missed, it must be REALLY amazing. I'm looking forward to an enchanting and engrossing story!

    +1 if you follow me

    Thanks for the chance to win!


  38. I would love to win this book because I haven't read many scifi books but this one sounds really good!

    +1 follower
    +1 tweeted @bianca1946

    infinitemusic19 at gmail dot com

    Great contest!


    I would like to read this book because my daughters name is Miranda and shes in 6th grade lol...

    I am a follower.

  40. I'd love to read this because I've seen SO many good reviews of it and people have even called it their fave book this year.

    Already a follower.

  41. I'm interested in this book because it sounds like mystery book and I love mysteries books.


  42. I would love to be entered. I want to read When You Reach Me because I've heard tons of fabulous things about it!

    +1 follower

    :) Erica

  43. The reason I'm interested in this book is because it sounds so different than anything else out right now.

    +1 Following
    +1 Sidebar:
    +1 Tweeted:

  44. Sounds like a very interesting story -- and books set in New York always grab my attention! Most of the novels I read are set in either NYC or London. I guess I should branch out, but I just can't help it! And I love the cover :)

    + 1 -- I follow


    writing.meg [at]

  45. +1 Oh my gosh darn!!! I love your blog way more now :) I really want to read this book because it sounds incredible and as you can tell by this post:

    I've been wanting to read it for a WHILE.

    +1 follower
    +1 on sidebar
    +1 tweeted, username is the same


  46. I haven't read a good sci-fi book in ages and that's why I would like to win this..thanks.

    wickdogg AT gmail dot com

  47. Please enter me in this giveaway!

    I am interested in reading this book because your review sounds fantastic and any author that is compared to Madeleine L'Engle and E. L. Konigsburg is one I want to check out.

    +1 I follow

    +1 I tweeted:

    saemmerson at yahoo dot com

    Sarah Emmerson

  48. I would like to read this book because I love YA, Coming of Age fiction, especially when they have unexpected twists and turns.

    +1 Follower
    +1 Tweet

    nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

  49. Sounds good, please enter me.

    +1 Follower

    Thanks for the contest!
    barbrafl737 (at) yahoo (dot) com

  50. I want to read this book because your review makes it sound even better than it already is :)

    Email? delightfulreviews[at]gmail[dot]com

    I do follow +1

    Lucy @ Delightful Reviews

  51. Keep posting stuff like this i really like it


Hello! I'm so excited to read what you have to say. Due to high amounts of spam, I'm forced to disabled anonymous comments for the time being. Sorry for any inconvenience this causes, and I hope you can understand and still appreciate the content here!


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