When You Reach Me
by Rebecca Stead
When You Reach Me Chapter 3 Summary
Things You Hide
- Miranda tells us she was named after a criminal. Her mother disagrees, arguing that Miranda was named for "people's rights" (3.1).
- Miranda and her mother are referencing the Miranda rights, which are read to people when they're arrested. (You can learn all about Miranda rights here.) You've probably heard them in cop movies or TV shows a hundred times or more.
- Wait. How did we get into this conversation? Let's back up.
- This all happened last fall on a day when Miranda had left her keys at school and was waiting in Belle's Market for Mom to come home.
- Miranda was reading a book, a story about a girl named Meg. The first line, she tells Belle, is "It was a dark and stormy night" (3.7).
- The story she's referencing (though she doesn't tell us right away) is A Wrinkle in Time. Fans of A Wrinkle in Time would have guessed what book Miranda is talking about by the mention of the character Meg and interplanetary travel.
- Miranda tells Belle the story of the book from the beginning while Belle makes her a turkey sandwich and gives her chewable Vitamin C tabs.
- On her way out, Miranda sneaks some grapes, which her mom won't let her have because of how the farm workers are treated.
- Mom shows up, buys some overpriced strawberries ("strawberry-shaped objects") and they head home (3.19).
- This is when the conversation about the origin of Miranda's name takes place.
- Mom defends the name, saying that, though the Miranda' warnings are connected to a criminal, it's still a necessary part of the justice system.
- Plus, she adds, Shakespeare created the name "Miranda") for his play The Tempest.
- Ignoring the Shakespearean origins, Miranda thinks it's typical that her mom would have picked this name. Her mom wanted to be a criminal defense lawyer, but quit because she had a baby – Miranda. She's a paralegal now, and works in Richard (her boyfriend's) law office.
- The two finish arguing about the name and Mom puts spaghetti on to boil. Miranda pokes fun at her mom's "purple and black striped tights" (3.30) and her nail polish.
- Looks like Miranda is in a foul mood, and her mom picks up on this. She can sense Miranda is mad about having to wait at Belle's.
- Mom suggests they hide a spare key in the fire hose in the stairwell for Miranda. So they do.
- Miranda then addresses that creepy "you" again. She says that "you" asked her to mention the key. She would tell this story about the key, she says, if she ever decides to write the letter.
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