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Themes

As Shakespeare once wrote, the course of true friendship never did run smooth. (OK, that's not really what Shakespeare said, but we're taking artistic license). <em>When You Reach Me</em> focuses on the course of one such friendship: "Miranda and Sal, Sal and Miranda" (5.9). The two have been best buds since Miranda moved into Sal's apartment building as a wee one in a car seat. Upon entering the sixth grade, though, Sal has grown distant and is stubbornly ignoring Miranda. Why?

The rift between Sal and Miranda is one of the great mysteries of the novel – and of growing up. We see echoes of broken friendship with other characters – Annemarie and Julia, for example, who are also experiencing the growing pains that intense friendships often do. The book, then, asks us to think about how friendships change who we are and why they are important. Must friendships change over time? What does it mean for a friendship to get older and mature? <em>When You Reach Me</em> may not have all the answers, but it definitely captures the pains and pleasures of being and having a friend.

Questions About Friendship

  1. Why doesn't Sal want to walk home with Miranda anymore?
  2. Why does Julia leave the rose for Annemarie?
  3. Why does Miranda call a truce with Julia?
  4. What does Sal mean when he tells Miranda that their friendship wasn't "normal"? (47.28). Was it a good idea for them to spend time apart?
  5. What happens to Sal when Miranda is sick and must stay home from school (47.30)? Why is this important?
  6. Is Marcus Miranda's friend?
  7. What lessons does Miranda learn about how to be a good friend?
  8. Is it important for Sal to have friends that are guy and for Miranda to have some friends that are girls? Why or why not?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Miranda has a lot to learn from Julia about how to be a good friend.

Sal isn't a good friend to Miranda because he abandons her.

Sal is a good friend to Miranda because he helps push her to become friends with more people.

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