Wednesday, October 13, 2010

When You Reach Me

(2009)
Newberry Winner

     This lovely tale created by Stead gave me chills-the good kind, like when someone else brushes my hair-certain books give me a soft tickle up my spine as I turn the last page. [dreamy sigh]  I didn't want it to end but yet the end was so GREAT! How could I not want it to end. 
     It's the story of 12-year-old Miranda and her mother, who is preparing to win a spot on "The $20,000 Pyramid" and their quirky 1970's New York neighborhood.  Miranda loves Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time and reads it over and over and carries it with her.   Her life is coasting comfortable down one path when things begin to go topsy-turvy and change course.  Her best friend, Sal, gets punched randomly by an older kid on the street and suddenly Sal doesn't want to hang out with her at all.   The laughing guy on the corner keeps getting closer and she begins to get notes tucked in odd places that don't make sense until she starts putting the pieces together.  It's lovely when that aha! moment lights up.
     It's a crazy story; really layered so well and it had to be hard to fit it all together.  At the back of the book, Stead says "I had to be rescued several times while writing this book..." this I can believe but the fact is it comes together brilliantly.  I adored all the characters-loved Miranda and her mother, Richard, the steady and reliable boyfriend, Cal and Annemarie, her friends, Louise, Sal's mom, and especially Marcus, the kid who punches Sal.  Miranda's mom is a particularly well-written 1970's activist mom.  Here's a quote:
While she listened, Belle made me a turkey sandwich and gave me about ten chewable vitamin C's because she thought I sounded a little nasal. When she went to the bathroom, I sneaked a bunch of grapes, which I love but can't ever have, because Mom doesn't like the way the grape pickers are treated in California and she refuses to buy them. (8)
I identified with this mom's attitude and choices and loved her relationship with Louise, the one-floor-down neighbor and fellow single parent of Sal.  I could pick dozens of quotes and gush over each character but really I think you should just go read it, buy it, share it with a friend...so you can feel that lovely chill up your spine as the story ends. 
After perusing Stead's website I'm wondering about her first novel, First Light, and whether it is worth reading?
What other books tingled my spine, you ask? 

1. From the Mixed-Up  Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
2. Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
3. Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins
4. Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
5. The Help by Kathryn Stockett

I'm sure there were a few more but these are the books that come rapidly to mind.
What about you...what book gives you the slow tickle of happiness??

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3 comments:

  1. I am reading the same kind of feel from this book, I can't wait to sit down and read it, it has been on my Wishlist for awhile now.

    I would say Michelle Zink and Lisa Schroeder give me that feeling.

    Lisa Genova's Still Alice did also.

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  2. I have this book in my 'to-read' pile - I can't wait to get to it!
    I read 'A Nest for Celeste' a month or two ago, and it gave me that same feeling you're describing here!!!

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  3. This book keeps popping up on Goodreads after my reviews that others who read my book read this book so I keep thinking I should read it.

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