When You Reach Me
by Rebecca Stead
When You Reach Me Theme of Identity
Who am I? What's my place in the world? These are questions that everyone struggles with, but no one more than so than the protagonist of a novel for tweens and teens. In When You Reach Me, our protagonist is trying to figure out who she is – and who she will become. Will Miranda define herself through the books that she reads, through the people that she hangs out with, or through the role model that her mother is? Over the course of the novel we'll watch Miranda grapple with what it means to be, well, just Miranda.
Questions About Identity
- At the beginning of the book, Miranda thinks of herself as part of Sal – "Sal and Miranda, Miranda and Sal." It's like they're one person. How does Miranda's identity change when Sal stops spending time with her?
- Why is it important for Miranda and Sal to spend some time apart?
- Why doesn't Miranda want to read any other books besides A Wrinkle in Time?
- In Chapter 41, Miranda decides to be a nicer person. What makes her want to change the way she treats other people? How does she begin to change her behavior?
- Why does Miranda become bathroom partners with Alice Evans?
- How is Miranda, in the end, like her mother? How is she different?
- Which characters in the book does Miranda misjudge? How does she gain a better sense of who they really are?
Chew on This
When You Reach Me shows us that you can decide your own identity. This is exactly what Miranda does in Chapter 41.
The biggest lesson Miranda learns is that "you can't judge a book by its cover." This is especially important when it comes to Julia, Marcus, and the Laughing Man.
Though Miranda spends the book thinking she's looking for the identity of the person who sent her the anonymous letters, she's actually looking for her own identity. At the end of the book, she discovers that it was the Laughing Man/Marcus who sent the letters, but she also learns a lot more about herself in the process.