When You Reach Me Summary & Study Guide

Rebecca Stead
This Study Guide consists of approximately 23 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of When You Reach Me.
This section contains 755 words
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When You Reach Me Summary & Study Guide Description

When You Reach Me Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead.

When You Reach Me is a novel by acclaimed writer Rebecca Stead. In this novel, Miranda begins receiving strange notes hidden in her own possessions by an unknown person. At first Miranda is frightened by these notes, but soon she becomes intrigued, determined to find out who is sending the notes and why. The answer, when it finally comes, will be the biggest surprise of all. When You Reach Me is a coming of age novel that dabbles a little in time travel and the surreal, a novel that will leave readers as anxious as Miranda to solve each mystery, the notes and as well as some of the more common mysteries of childhood.

Miranda is a middle school student who has had the same best friend since she was a baby. Her best friend, Sal, lives downstairs in the same building where Miranda and her mother live. However, one day while walking home, Sal was punched by a bigger kid and he ran home, telling Miranda he thought they should not be friends for a while.

At the same time Miranda and Sal stop being friends, Annemarie, a girl in Miranda's class, stopped being friends with her best friend, Julia. For this reason, Miranda asks Annemarie to sit with her at lunch. In a short time, Miranda and Annemarie become good friends, spending afternoons in each other's homes.

At home, Miranda's mother is set on becoming a contestant on a television show called The $20,000 Pyramid. Every night Miranda and her mother's boyfriend, Richard, help her mom practice for the show. The practice begins to pay off when Miranda's mother receives a postcard informing her that she has been scheduled to appear on the show the following April.

Miranda and Annemarie go to lunch on occasion with another kid, Colin. Colin gets it into his head to get them all a job at a local sandwich shop. Colin talks the owner of the shop to allow all three of them to work in the shop during their lunch hour each day. In payment, the shop owner allows them one soda and a sandwich made with vegetables and cheese.

One day at the sandwich shop, Colin looks inside a ceramic bank that the shop owner has told them to leave alone. Inside is dozens of two dollar bills folded into triangles. Colin finds this amusing, but Annemarie is terrified they will be caught just looking at it.

Julia comes to the sandwich shop a few times. The owner does not like her being there and often tells her to leave. When Julia asks for a job, the owner refuses. This makes Miranda happy because she dislikes Julia. However, when Miranda later learns that the owner dislikes Julia because she is black, Miranda begins to rethink her own opinions of Julia.

One afternoon when she comes home from school, Miranda finds the door to her apartment open. Miranda is frightened, but when she finds nothing missing, she decides her mother must have forgotten to relock the door. Later, however, when Miranda finds a note sticking out of one of her schoolbooks, she begins to wonder. When she tells her mother, Miranda's mother thinks of the spare key they keep in a fire hose down the hall. When they check, it is gone.

Miranda finds another note some time later in a bag of buns she is counting at the sandwich shop. A third note appears in the pocket of one of her jackets. These notes ask Miranda to write a story, but Miranda has no idea who these notes could be from.

After the bank is stolen from the sandwich shop, Miranda and her friends lose their job. They attempt to apologize, but when they realize the owner is prejudiced against blacks, they decide they do not want to work for him any longer.

As Miranda walks home one afternoon, she watches as the boy who punched Sal attempts to stop him on the street to apologize. Sal becomes frightened and runs. Sal runs in front of a truck and should be run over, but a homeless man who has been living outside Miranda's building kicks him and moves him out of the way just in time. In the aftermath, Miranda finds a fourth note in the man's shoe, a shoe stolen from her own apartment. It is soon after this that Miranda realizes the homeless man is one of her friends, a time traveler whose mind has been affected by his travels.

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