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Last class | class #6, spring 2017

when you reach meWhen You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Changing friendships, New York City, time travel. Mysterious notes and everyday sixth grade life. How does Rebecca Stead weave all these strands into a coherent whole? Which catch you as a reader?

In addition to your comments on our final text, please share any other thoughts as we come to the end of our exploration of adolescent literature together. What has resonated for you most, and what do you want to know more about going forward?
Lauren Adams
Lauren Adams
Lauren Adams teaches English and ELL at Natick High School and adolescent literature at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Formerly a Senior Editor for The Horn Book Magazine, she regularly contributes book reviews.
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Nana Seiwaa Sekyere

I'm about halfway through the book but I've read enough to resonate with most of the comments posted above. I had similar thoughts to Shaina's about Miranda's relationship with Julia. I guess I'll have to keep reading to see how everything unfolds. I have enjoyed what I've read so far and I'm waiting to discover who has been leaving all the notes. Comments about the class: It was a great opportunity for me to learn more about genres I was not very familiar with such as graphic novels. I liked that in addition to books we read for class, there were additional books brought to class so we could get to know some other titles in specific genres.

Posted : Mar 06, 2017 09:55

Uttara Pant

Like so many of you, I'll just ditto everything already said. I didn't know what to expect from this book- I didn't read the back cover and just went for it. I loved it at the first Wrinkle in Time reference and didn't stop. And because I have read Wrinkle, I felt like I should be looking for some sort of time travel clue and so guessed a bit early on who it was, but this didn't take away from my enjoyment of the book. And of course I could have been wrong! And as closing thoughts: I loved taking this class. I only seriously started reading YA books this winter with a friend of mine and I am so so glad this class exists and I got to talk about YA books with so many amazing people who know the space so much better than I do. I remember reading books like this in elementary and middle school but by the time I got to highschool we had all these "adult" books to read for things like the IB and YA books just sort of fell by the wayside. So glad I get to obsess over them now. And the fact that you bring in so much additional literature is perfect. I feel like I have an endless supply of books to keep me safe now.

Posted : Mar 06, 2017 09:37

Rebecca Hawk

I really appreciate what has already been said about Stead's When You Reach Me. I loved this quick paced, short chaptered book and the way that it depicted real issues while also including time travel! I think that it would be a great class text because it would open up to lots of conversations regarding big social issues that are coming to the surface in early adolescence (racism, socio-economic status, changing friendships, etc.). It also seems like a text that would hold a whole class' attention because of the mysteries in it! In terms of this class, I most appreciated learning about books are evaluated books in different genres and really just being exposed to a broad range of books. I now know have many more books on my reading list (loved the book talks for this) and I have some books to draw on when students ask me for recommendations. Collecting books for my bibliography exposed me to the many people and resources that I can rely on to find books. I would love to think more about evaluating books and finding books for reluctant or struggling readers (other than graphic novels) that would encourage them to practice reading.

Posted : Mar 06, 2017 09:00

Sophia Pompilus

I thought Rebecca Stead did a great job of infusing fantasy and every-day life for a 6th grader living in the city. As a latchkey kid myself, who grew up in a large city, I was very easily able to place myself in Miranda's shoes when she's walking up and down Amsterdam or Broadway afterschool with her friends. Prior to Richard purchasing the first edition of A Wrinkle in Time for her, I was beginning to sense similarities in fantasy elements in L'Engle's work and in Stead's. The conversation around time travel, the use of the word tesser, the character Meg, etc. all pointed me back to A Wrinkle in Time, which so happens to be one of my favorite childhood books. I was a little disappointed, however, because I initially believed the mere mention of time travel and mystery in finding out who is writing the letters to Miranda meant there would be a higher level of fantasy in the plot. However, I also think if Stead's goal was to maintain the plot such that readers would be able to envision themselves as characters of the novel as well, the hints of fantasy were perfect. She did a phenomenal job in capturing the common themes in middle school in dealing with changing friendships, a focus on social ranking, independence, etc. I would love to read about why Stead chose to intertwine L'Engle's work into her own and how much of the story was based on personal experience as well.

Posted : Mar 06, 2017 08:51

MG Prezioso

I agree with everything that has been said so far about When You Reach Me, especially the fact that I was so wrapped up in the mystery portion of the text that I didn't notice the specific details, chapter titles or otherwise, until I was more than halfway through. I admittedly didn't have time to re-read, but I really want to! I am looking forward to discussing the author's background and process for writing this book. I read online that her inspiration came from reading an article about a person in Denver suffering from amnesia after an accident, and I think that how she connected his story to her personal life and wove both of those elements together to create this novel is really fascinating. I think this class has made me think about inspiration a lot, particularly finding inspiration in the most seemingly common of life stories, and I think this book is no exception. Sometimes the most elaborate of stories stem from the simplest of circumstances, and I really appreciate/value that. Thanks for including this book!!

Posted : Mar 06, 2017 08:28

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