Rebecca Stead

Premiere date: December 17, 2011

This November, our guest is Rebecca Stead, author of When You Reach Me, which won the Newbery Medal in 2010.

It’s 1979. Twelve year-old Miranda is living with her Mom in New York City near Amsterdam Avenue. There are rules for navigating New York City, like always have your key out before you reach the front door, if a stranger is hanging out in front of your building, keep walking, if someone is acting strange, cross to the other side of the street, and never show your money on the street.

But what about navigating sixth grade? What do you do when your best friend doesn’t want to be friends anymore, a girl in your class calls you an idiot, and you encounter racism for the first time? And then there are the notes – mysterious notes that appear in unusual places, the cramped, wobbly handwriting hinting of a terrible tragedy to come, but asking you not to tell anyone.

When You Reach Me is best described as a coming of age story that suddenly leaps genres, twisting the story so sharply and skillfully that you can almost hear the pieces clicking together as you rocket through a double-surprise ending that immediately has you re-reading the book – and discovering a totally different story underneath.

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Author photo by Joanne Dugan