Sunday, April 10, 2011

When You Reach Me

When You Reach MeHere's the review I wrote for the April issue of Homeschooling Teen:

Genres can be misleading. Their sole purpose in life is to categorize stories into particular little slots, so that their labels can glisten from a utilitarian shelf. Of course, that’s not to say that they are useless, but most people tend to take them far more seriously than they should, especially writers. More often than not, recent books read like they were written simply to be organized. Every once in a while, though, you can still find the story that is such a hodgepodge of genres that you remember just how pointless the labeling exercise can sometimes be.

Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me could be considered a story like that. Most of its plotline is very similar to the typical children’s novel genre as it follows twelve Miranda in her day-to-day life. It is so similar, in fact, that it could be easily compared to other books of that genre, like Katherine Paterson’s Bridge to Terabithia, which is even set in the same time period as When You Reach Me, the mid 1970’s.

What sets When You Reach Me apart, though, is that as Miranda tells the story in her own words, she’s unsure if there’s anything to actually tell. Writing this book was not her idea in the least. Rather, she was ordered to write it by a mysterious correspondent.