Kate Karyus Quinn, that I was rewriting my YA urban fantasy as middle grade, she recommended When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. She asked me if I'd read A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle because it would help to understand When You Reach Me.
Had I read A Wrinkle in Time? Only about five or six times. It's one of my all time favorite books. It's the book that made me want to be a writer. So with that caveat, my expectations were set pretty high for When You Reach Me and it did not disappoint.
A Wrinkle in Time is Miranda's favorite book too and she carries it with her everywhere she goes through New York City in 1979. Miranda is a latch-key kid of a single mom who works hard and is competing to strike it rich on the $20,000 Pyramid, a popular 1970's game show.
The book starts off slowly, but Miranda's authentic voice drew me in immediately. When You Reach Me reads like a quiet mystery, but when Miranda receives a note that could have only come from the future, the science fiction elements to the story unfold.
I love time travel, I love intelligent twelve-year-old girl protagonists, and I love smart books that give you all the little pieces to a large puzzle that fit so neatly yet surprisingly together in the end. Stead has created a masterpeice of a smart but simple story. Miranda's voice and her experience feel so real and honest that the speculative aspects of the story feel real as well. This book made me think hard about paradoxes and the theories behind time travel without it ever feeling like a science fiction book.
If you liked A Wrinkle in Time or any time travel story, or are thinking of writing middle grade, I couldn't reccomend this book more.