Of Reach and Wrinkles

when-you-reach-meThe most recent Newbery Award winner was Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me. If you read it, regardless of your age, you’ll understand why.  It’s the story of sixth-grade Miranda, a New York City girl who is trying to come to grips with the unexplained desertion of her best friend Sal, with new realizations that her single mother is struggling, and with strange developments in her neighborhood: a boy who is violent one day, friendly the next; a homeless man who occasionally has moments of strange coherence; and notes for her that begin popping up in her home and possessions, notes that contain information that only she could possibly know.

Reach is one  of those books that is working on so many different levels that it can appeal to a great variety of readers. It works as a character-focused piece about friendships and family relationships. It works as a multi-stranded mystery. It has elements of science fiction that will fascinate those inclined to that genre, but not confuse those who are not. It has subtlewrinkle-in-time humor and pathos. It also has repeated references to Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, a classic that helped so many of us nurture our love for reading as children. For me, Wrinkle was one of those books that opened me to new realms of possibility while still impacting me on a very real emotional level. Reach lives up to the same high standard.

Since both books are relatively short, I would encourage you to pair them for a meeting of your book group. If some of your group members have upper elementary or lower middle grade family or friends, this would make a wonderful meeting to invite them to participate as guests. You’ll have a great time discovering or rediscovering A Wrinkle in Time, remembering the thrill of discovery that comes with a great book, while at the same time you find a new classic to share.

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About the Author:

Neil Hollands is an Adult Services Librarian at Williamsburg Regional Library in Virginia, where he specializes in readers’ advisory and collection development. He is the author of Read On . . . Fantasy Fiction (2007) and Fellowship in a Ring: a Guide for Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Groups (2009).

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