The Rosie Project – A List For Finding True Love

Book Review : The Rosie Project
Don Tillman #1

By Graeme Simsion

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

An international sensation, this hilarious, feel-good novel is narrated by an oddly charming and socially challenged genetics professor on an unusual quest: to find out if he is capable of true love.

Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical—most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.

Yet Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent—and on a quest of her own. She is looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might be able to help her with. Don’s Wife Project takes a back burner to the Father Project and an unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that love is not always what looks good on paper.

The Rosie Project is a moving and hilarious novel for anyone who has ever tenaciously gone after life or love in the face of overwhelming challenges.  (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

To sum up The Rosie Project it would be best to make a list in honor of Don, the list master. Next, I would need to make a questionaire and a full project, collecting data and screening sources to use. However, since I’m not Don…..

I believe I laughed over every single page in The Rosie Project. Is it funnier because I have people in my family on the autism spectrum? I remember reading that Rita Wilson, Tom Hanks wife, wondered if the play My Big Fat Greek Wedding was only funny to Greeks, or did everyone find it to be funny (and, it became a loved movie produced by Tom Hanks). The Rosie Project is like the movie, in that, everyone can find the humor in it because we all want to find love, sometimes we are all socially awkward and sometimes we really don’t know what we want.

Here are a few of the funny moments (out of context I don’t know if they seem funny):

     “Rosie had moved on and was now examining my CD collection. The investigation was becoming annoying. Dinner was already late.
‘You really love Back,’ she said. This was a reasonable deduction, as my CD collection consists only of the works of that composer. But it was not correct.
‘I decided to focus on Back after reading Godel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstadter. Unfortunately I haven’t made much progress. I don’t think my brain works fast enough to decode the patterns in the music.’
‘You don’t listen to it for fun?’
This was beginning to sound like the initial dinner conversation with Daphne and I didn’t answer.” (p. 49)

“‘No assistance is required,’ I said. ‘I recommend reading a book.’
I watched Rosie walk to the bookshelf, briefly peruse the contents, then walk away. Perhaps she used IBM rather than Apple software, although many of the manuals applied to both.” (p. 50)

I love the understated humor. More quotes:

     “Now I had ten days to learn to dance.
Gene entered my office as I was practicing my dance steps.
‘I think the longevity statistics were based on marriages to live women, Don.’
He was referring to the skeleton I was using for practice. I had obtained it on loan from the Anatomy Department, and no one had asked what I required it for.” (p. 131-132)

“As we drank champagne in the lounge, I explained that I had earned special privileges by being particularly vigilant and observant of rules and procedures on previous flights, and by making a substantial number of helpful suggestions regarding check-in procedures, flight scheduling, pilot training, and ways in which security systems might be subverted. I was no longer expect to offer advice, having contributed ‘enough for a lifetime of flying.'” (p. 179)

 

Here is the quote with a little spoiler in it:

     “So, to add to a momentous day, I corrected a misconception that my family had held for at least fifteen years and came out to them as straight.” (p. 275)

Here is my final problem in reviewing this book. I can’t actually recommend it to any of my friends because Rosie’s language is crude and she throws out the F-bomb with some regularity. There’s not explicit sex in the book, but sex is discussed frequently. It was the funniest book I have read in a long time and thoroughly enjoyed it.

By language it would get two stars. By humorous content 5 stars. So I’m rounding that out to 4 stars since I’ve disclosed the items that would disturb some audiences.

4  out of 5 stars

4 star

  • the Mother

If you have enjoyed Rosie try the 44 Scotland Street novels by Alexander McCall Smith. Though a completely different genre, you could also try Date Night On Union Station by E. M. Foner, it is extremely funny.

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Uprooted – Who Is The Intended Audience?

Book Review : Uprooted

By Naomi Novik

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

I was excited to try a new author and see how a Polish fairy tale inspiration would work.

In a fantasy novel I love to see intriguing ideas, a new way of looking at the world and a cast of characters that are both endearing and overcome challenges. Uprooted has all of these elements, yet I felt something was missing…

The Dragon is a taciturn sorcerer. His motives were misunderstood, he was continually grumpy and he loved the engineered details of a spell. When faced with magic he could not understand he would lash out at his apprentice. He is, in fact, overtly rude to Agnieszka. An analogy could be drawn between the Dragon and the Beast, from Beauty and the Beast, both are churlish and are eventually charmed by the young woman residing in their stone fortress. I quite liked the Dragon at moments, but I never felt much chemistry between him and Agnieszka. I had hoped to see more change in the Dragon.

Agnieszka is fiercely loyal to Kasia, loves her homeland and is continually messy. Sometimes she mopes about, complains and gripes, but eventually she finds her inner strength to do the things she must for survival. Her character reminds me of the women from Anne McCaffrey’s writing in the 1980’s. Agnieszka is endearing because of her flaws, but she doesn’t feel new as a character. I enjoyed the contrast of the spell work that was effective for Agnieszka compared to the Dragon.

Kasia is a secondary character and her personality is not fully developed. Some might say she feels a bit wooden or even petrified from her experiences within the wood.

The wood has traditional connotations that it is the mysterious place of evil. Horrific monsters lurk within the wood and those touched by the wood are forever changed. Those who survive the wood have lost their innocence and they consequently spread the corrupt nature of the wood to those they touch. The wood, as a semi-sentient force, desires to swallow civilization.

So, what was missing? Who is the intended audience? Originally I felt it was written for a young adult audience because of the simplistic writing style – I was wrong. It is fairly straight-forward in the writing even though the concepts behind the writing are complex. I’m more forgiving of simplicity in a book written for a young adult audience, and expect a slightly more predictable plot, though love it when I’m surprised by twists.

Here are some samples of the writing:

“The moon was high that night, full and beautiful, blue light on the shining snow all around. I opened Jaga’s book as we flew, and found a spell for the quickening of feet. I sang it softly to the horses, their ears pricking back to listen to me, and the wind of our passage grew muffled and thick, pressing hard on my cheeks and blurring my sight.” (p. 102)

“I turned the pages with a finger and a thumb, holding them by the lower corner only. It was a bestiary, a strange one full of monsters and chimaeras. Not all of them were even real.” (p.275)

Here is a short sample from The Shock of Night by Patrick W. Carr:

“‘Lord Dura. I wondered when you would return to us.’ The subtle note of disapproval in his voice drifted to my ears as if he had to bribe the air to carry it to me.” P. 24)

Contrasting these two authors shows how Novik’s style is straight forward and unembellished. Novik doesn’t use similes or metaphors.

In the past, books for young adults were free from gratuitous violence. I still hope to see books without extreme violence, but even current children’s novels are more violent than books written 20 years ago. Uprooted has some violence, but nothing more extreme than other young adult books, which still led me to believe it could fit into the young adult audience.

Finally, here was the big clue that this was not written for a young adult audience – it includes two intimate scenes that soundly place Uprooted into a category for adults. The first scene doesn’t move beyond passionate kissing with a few articles of clothing tossed aside. The second scene, surprisingly, became a full on description of sex. I was very surprised because these two moments of passion were so out of context with the rest of the writing, the characters and the flow of the plot. I never felt like the Sorcerer connected with anyone on a human level.

More than what was missing, it was a question of inconsistency that has brought my review down to 2.5 stars. I didn’t lower it more because Uprooted had some fun ideas. Readers just need to know in advance it was written for an adult audience though much of it reads like a young adult novel. I can’t really recommended this book.

2.5 out of 5 stars
2 1:2 star
– Michelle

Other (young adult) fantasy books I recommend include : 

The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima
Serphina by Rachel Hartman
The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
The Raven Ring by Patricia C. Wrede
The Queen’s Poisoner by Jeff Wheeler

More (adult) books I recommend include:

Date Night On Union Station by E. M. Foner (humorous, science fiction)
Lady of Devices by Shelley Adina (light steampunk, it might be YA)
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell By Susanna Clarke (historical Regency fantasy)
Sorcery & Cecelia: or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot By Patricia Wrede & Caroline Stevermer (historical Regency fantasy)
Sword of the Lamb, The Phoenix Legacy series By M.K. Wren (science fiction)
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (fantasy)
Crystal Singer by Anne McCaffrey (light science fiction)

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The Bertie Project – The Horror Is Back, But You Knew It Had To Happen

Book Review : The Bertie Project
44 Scotland Street novel

By Alexander McCall Smith

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

Once more, we catch up with the delightful goings-on in the fictitious 44 Scotland Street from Alexander McCall Smith . . .

Bertie’s respite from his overbearing mother, Irene, is over. She has returned from the middle-east, only to discover that her son has been exposed to the worst evils of cartoons, movies and Irn Bru, and her wrath falls upon her unfortunate husband, Stuart. Meanwhile, Bruce has fallen in love with someone other than himself; Big Lou wants to adopt her beloved Finlay; Matthew and Elspeth host the Duke of Johannesburg for supper and Bertie decides he wants to move out of Scotland Street altogether and live with his grandmother, Nicola.

Can Irene and Stuart’s marriage survive? Will Bruce’s newfound love last? And will Bertie really leave Scotland Street? Find out in the next installment of this charming, beloved series.  (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

Alas, Irene was not permanently ensconced in a harem, she was not eaten by crocodiles on the Nile, she was not eradicated from Bertie’s life in any way. We all knew “The Horror” had to return because our love for Bertie stems from our outrage over his mother.

The Bertie Project has some pithy life lessons for everyone:

1- No one needs a fascist for a mother
2- Even liars tell the truth sometimes (though universally true, Olive takes the cake)
3- Caution should be exercised when hiring a nanny who is into extreme sports
3.5- Caution should be used when hiring anyone recommended by Bruce
4- Caution should prevail when expected to wear hipster pajamas
5- Nudists in Scotland are exposed to more than others would expect
6- Poetry truly can change your world, but a change for the best is debatable
7- There is love in the world; love of country, love of others and love of self
8- The proper use for the word defenestration
9- Some people like camping
10- Bertie’s dreams of being a penknife owner are far in the future

In reference to number 9 on the list, here is a quote:

“And there were people who liked sleeping in uncomfortable, constricting sleeping bags – not infrequently made out of some sort of nylon – under canvas roof that could not be trusted to keep the rain out entirely; who liked communal ablution blocks shared with total strangers, with showers that dribbled lukewarm water; who liked the feeling of being not-quite-clean, a target for midges and mosquitoes, and other unidentifiable agents of itchiness.” (p.58)

As a note there was nothing about Pat in this installment, if she is one of your favorite characters you will be disappointed. There is never enough about Bertie, my personal favorite. As is the McCall way, the plot meanders with no particular destination in mind.

I enjoyed The Bertie Project as I have enjoyed all the books with Bertie along with the cast of characters on 44 Scotland Street. Alas, the poor wee Bertie has a difficult situation, but he has the hope of Glasgow.

4  out of 5 stars

4 star

  • the Mother

If you have enjoyed 44 Scotland Street novels try reading Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell By Susanna Clarke. It is a completely different style of book, but runs on with tangents and details that are charming. Another great and ponderous book is A Gentleman In Moscow By Amor Towles which I highly recommend. Two final recommendations are A Long Way From Chicago by Richard Peck and Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool.

 

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The Screaming Staircase, Lockwood & Co. – Who Is The Intended Audience?

Book Review : The Screaming Staircase
Lockwood & Co. #1

By Jonathan Stroud

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

When the dead come back to haunt the living, Lockwood & Co. step in . . .

For more than fifty years, the country has been affected by a horrifying epidemic of ghosts. A number of Psychic Investigations Agencies have sprung up to destroy the dangerous apparitions.

Lucy Carlyle, a talented young agent, arrives in London hoping for a notable career. Instead she finds herself joining the smallest, most ramshackle agency in the city, run by the charismatic Anthony Lockwood. When one of their cases goes horribly wrong, Lockwood & Co. have one last chance of redemption. Unfortunately this involves spending the night in one of the most haunted houses in England, and trying to escape alive.

Set in a city stalked by spectres, The Screaming Staircase is the first in a chilling new series full of suspense, humour and truly terrifying ghosts. Your nights will never be the same again . . .

(Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

Success! I want to read more of the Lockwood & Co mysteries and feel the chill of being ghost-locked. The Screaming Staircase is a good mystery, spine tingling thrill for middle graders. There are a few ghastly descriptions of the murdered victims and circumstances of other deaths. The description of the red room was truly awful. (I write this realizing that the red room description adds to the tone of the book and can’t be edited out. But, I did shudder in disgust.)

Stroud does a great job in writing; he tickled my funny bone with quirky details. When the kids from Lockwood & Co. work on solving a mystery they end up on Baker Street, the location of the research library in this alternative London. A sinister ghost plasm in a sealed jar is kept under a polkadot cloth. They bicker over who ate a doughnut, cookie or other treat instead of the danger they will certainly be facing. A table cloth serves as a notepad for pertinent messages as well as the mundane.

Characters:

Lockwood – The teenager, proprietor and all around snarky fellow who runs Lockwood & Co, He seems reminiscent of a crowing Peter Pan, full of bluff and bluster. It seems like he will never grow up and loves a good adventure. If you know someone is trying to kill you and you proceed anyhow in their employ this is the guy for you!

Lucy – The cool headed one, well, sometimes. She gets fairly annoyed with George on a daily basis, but she has fair reasons to be annoyed and there are certain moments with Lockwood as well, such as when he nearly gets one killed. As the most complex character, to date, she is full of angst, self-doubt, insight and is the story teller.

George – Known for his lack of fashion, lack of coordination, and lack of social skills he is essential for his enthusiasm for research. He also is the main maker of tea and fetcher of doughnuts. He seems to be rather dour, though there are no reports of him being ghost-touched.

Here are a couple of quotes to demonstrate the descriptions which fairly tap dance on the tongue:

“The rule here is that each member of the agency only takes one cookie at a time in strict rotation. Keeps it fair, keeps it orderly. Nicking two in times of stress just isn’t done.” (p. 87)

“As we staggered out under our burden, like three trainee Sherpas back from Everest, he lowered the magazine and regarded us with callous amusement mixed with pity. He touched his forelock in a slightly ironic gesture.” (P. 251)

I recommend this book, and believe both boys and girls will enjoy it.

4  out of 5 stars

4 star

  • the Mother

If you liked a mystery try Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett for a younger audience and Black Flowers, White Lies By Yvonne Ventresca for an older audience.

They were not my favorite mysteries, but some others for consideration would be When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead and I Am The Messenger By Markus Zusak. (Parents should definitely review Zusak’s book before giving it to their child.)

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The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate – Is The Wonder Of Science Found In Texas Again?

Book Review: The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate

By Jacqueline Kelly

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

Callie Vee, Travis, Granddaddy, and the whole Tate clan are back in this charming follow-up to Newbery Honor–winner The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate.

Callie’s younger brother Travis keeps bringing home strays. And Callie has her hands full keeping the animals—Travis included—away from her mother’s critical eye.

When a storm blows change into town in the form of a visiting veterinarian, Callie discovers a life and a vocation she desperately wants. But with societal expectations as they are, she will need all her wits and courage to realize her dreams.

Whether it’s wrangling a rogue armadillo or stray dog, a guileless younger brother or standoffish cousin, the trials and tribulations of Callie Vee will have readers cheering for this most endearing heroine. (Courtesy of Goodreads.com )

Adult Point of View

In The Evolution of Caluprnia Tate the focus of the story was Callie Vee’s relationship with her grandfather and her discovery of herself as she observed the natural world. It was a coming of age story. I feel like Callie Vee stalled in The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate. She still has a special relationship with her grandfather. She still has too many annoying brothers. And, she is still misunderstood by her parents. So, what was missing?

The moment of discovery for Calpurnia happens in the beginning when she finds a sea gull hundreds of miles from the ocean. The tell tale sign of the sea gull was the oncoming hurricane that devastated Galveston in 1900. Callie Vee starts lessons on anatomy with her grandfather through dissecting animals, starting with a worm. Callie Vee continues to be curious about the world around her, but her granddaddy is in the background and rarely crops up.

Callie Vee has a good relationship with her brother Travis, who loves animals. It was a little confusing if the focus of the book was on Callie Vee or Travis. It seemed like we needed more about Travis if this was to become a coming of age story about him. I felt a bit let down that Callie Vee didn’t make more progress in her personal growth. Her family continues to treat her as a second class citizen.

At the dinner table Callie Vee is in trouble:

“I kept my head down and waited for conversation to resume. For the moment, camouflage and mimicry of the well-behaved daughter for called for.” (p. 108)

A moment learning about navigation from the stars with Granddaddy:

“So no matter where in the world you are, no matter how lost you may be, these stars will guide you home. Sailors have always considered them lucky; this is where we get the expression ‘to thank one’s lucky stars.'” (p.231)

There are still enjoyable bits in the book and I enjoyed it, even though it didn’t hold the same magical quality I felt in the first. I still recommend it if you enjoyed The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate.

3.75 out of 5 stars

4 star

  • Michelle
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Maniac Mcgee – How Do You Become A Legend?

Book Review: Maniac Mcgee

By Jerry Spinelli

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

Jeffrey Lionel “Maniac” Magee might have lived a normal life if a freak accident hadn’t made him an orphan. After living with his unhappy and uptight aunt and uncle for eight years, he decides to run–and not just run away, but run. This is where the myth of Maniac Magee begins, as he changes the lives of a racially divided small town with his amazing and legendary feats. (Courtesy of Goodreads.com )

Adult Point of View

1991 Newberry Winner.

My first impression of Maniac Magee is running. Is there ever a moment when Jeffrey (Maniac) isn’t running? He has tried to run from unhappiness, misfortune, death and he has mostly tried to run from himself.

Grade school girls in Two Mills still  jump rope and chant:
“Ma-niac, Ma-niac
He’s so cool
Ma-niac, Ma-niac
Don’t go to school
Runs all night
Runs all right
Ma-niac, Ma-niac
Kissed a bull!”

And sometimes the girl holding one end of the rope is from the West side of Hector, and the girl on the other end is from the East side; and if you’re looking for Maniac Magee’s legacy, or monument, that’s as good as any – even if it wasn’t really a bull. (p 2)

Maniac characterizes “being without guile” at the beginning of the book. He doesn’t see race and doesn’t understand the division in the town of Two Mills. He doesn’t understand why some people call themselves black and call him white. He finds multiple colors on his own skin and the only white he can find is the whites of his eyes, but his eyes are no different than the kids with the multi-shades of brown where he currently lives. He can see the similarities of families that are happy on both the East and West side. He has also seen some of the ugly side of hatred on both the East and West sides of the city. He learns to see the misunderstanding between the races.

One of the interesting actions he takes is showing the two extremes of love and hate to another boy from East side. At first, Maniac’s actions seem like the worst thing he could have done. It is interesting because the change does come, slowly, in a legendary fashion. One of the gifts of writing fiction is that the author can make leaps that aren’t plausible, but serve a purpose in developing a theme. In this case, the purpose was to show how we can live as friends with those of different races and beliefs. Spinelli weaves a tale that is simplistic and a little rosy concerning prejudice, however, that is part of the charm of Maniac Magee.

He became a legend because he changed a city, was a hero to small children and made friends with most people. Of course, becoming a friend sometimes came after making an enemy. As he becomes aware of racial hatred he looses his innocence and even goads an enemy by embarrassing him.

I enjoyed this book! I give it a high recommendation for a broad audience.

It has been recommended for 4th-6th graders. I would think 4th grade  is too young; I think it would be better enjoyed for 6-8th graders. I look forward to seeing what my sons think of this book. I think boys will particularly like this book. (My 11 year old and I have begun reading it together.)

There are some minor racial slurs and violence, but much less than could have been used in a book about strained race relations. As a warning there is a kiss in the book, as stated in the quote he kisses a “bull”.

4 out of 5 stars

4 star

  • Michelle

 

11 Year Old Son’s Point of View

I liked it because it was an adventure!

5 out of 5 stars (I think it should be 10 stars)

5 star

 

I would also recommend Holes by Louis Sachar, Schooled by Gordon Korman and The Strange Case Of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger.

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When You Reach Me – Do You Believe In Time Travel?

Book Review : When You Reach Me

By Rebecca Stead

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

Four mysterious letters change Miranda’s world forever.

By sixth grade, Miranda and her best friend, Sal, know how to navigate their New York City neighborhood. They know where it’s safe to go, like the local grocery store, and they know whom to avoid, like the crazy guy on the corner.

But things start to unravel. Sal gets punched by a new kid for what seems like no reason, and he shuts Miranda out of his life. The apartment key that Miranda’s mom keeps hidden for emergencies is stolen. And then Miranda finds a mysterious note scrawled on a tiny slip of paper: 

I am coming to save your friend’s life, and my own.
I must ask two favors. First, you must write me a letter.

The notes keep coming, and Miranda slowly realizes that whoever is leaving them knows all about her, including things that have not even happened yet. Each message brings her closer to believing that only she can prevent a tragic death. Until the final note makes her think she’s too late. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

This was a weird book! I have read a lot of odd books, and this one tops the list because it is written for a young audience, has some mature material and references A Wrinkle In Time. I have my doubts that lots of kids have read Madeleine L’Engle award winning book from 1963, and without this background it doesn’t make a lot of sense. Because of this I feel like When You Reach Me was written for adults within the format of a children’s book. I don’t think many kids will enjoy this book (I could be wrong, I’ve seen a review where a teacher shared it with her 4th grade class and she said they all loved it). The lexile level is listed as 750 which roughly corresponds to a 4-6th grade level. (I don’t actually like the lexile system because it doesn’t take into consideration the content.) It is suggested for ages 11-14 which is about 5-9th grade.

Gritty, unpleasant subjects are also explored; a slightly mature content.  To me the most prominent was the homeless man who the children were frightened of, who lived under the mailbox. Other subjects touched on included rehabilitation in prisons, racism, single mothers, consequences of getting pregnant when not married and dead-end jobs. It was sad to see how Miranda and Sal fell out of their friendship. I think many children could easily identify with subject because friendships are often fragile, especially as they transition in the teen years.

For me the main reference to A Wrinkle In Time was to provide a literary device to explain time travel. It just didn’t feel right, though I loved A Wrinkle In Time, I’m fuzzy on the details since I haven’t read it in a long time. It just didn’t feel like a pertinent reference. (I hate to say it since I know someone will jump all over me for saying this, but that’s just how I felt.) Time travel always has certain rules, like you can’t see yourself in a different time or you could go crazy. Does the time traveling character go a little crazy in When You Reach Me? The plot became very obvious to me, as an adult. I believe a younger audience will find the end surprising and sad.

I did like some of the characters, like Miranda, who was filled with self-doubts, but I just never felt emotionally connected to the story. I never understood Miranda’s mother as all. It seemed to have a slow start and it seemed like the course of action Miranda was encouraged to take wasn’t safe. I wouldn’t want my child to follow mysterious letters, and keep secrets about a stranger watching their every move, seeming to know the future.

I didn’t hate When You Reach Me, but I didn’t love it either. When I saw it again in the library I had no desire to share it with my child, which is telling of my overall impression. I don’t know how books are chosen to be Newberry Award winners. The winners frequently seem to be edgy, thought provoking or have content that will interest adults. I frequently like readying the Newberry books for my personal enjoyment.

I would love to see a respected award given to books that kids will love. My hope is to have children love reading when they are young so they will continue to read as adults. I think there is plenty of time to read thought provoking novels later, when teens are questioning who they are and how they fit in the world, and children’s books could go back to being fun for children.

I would love to hear about Newberry books that your kids have loved reading.

3 out of 5 stars
3 star
– Michelle

If you like this one  try The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly (I don’t know how much children will like this one.)  and Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett.

I liked both of these much more than When You Reach Me.

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