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Analysis

Literary Devices in When You Reach Me

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

When You Reach Me is a deeply intertextual book. That means When You Reach Me often refers to other books and depends upon those other books to help it make meaning – kind of like a book having a...

Setting

Rebecca Stead's When You Reach Me captures the grit and greatness of New York City in the late 1970s. Through the eyes of our latchkey kid protagonist Miranda, we're introduced to the city's someti...

Narrator Point of View

Our time travelling guide in this book is a sixth grader named Miranda. She speaks in the first person and often addresses an unnamed person ("you") in the narrative, who we later figure out is Mar...

Genre

As reviewer Monica Edinger writes in the New York Times, When You Reach Me is a "hybrid of genres, it is a complex mystery, a work of historical fiction, a school story and one of friendship, with...

Tone

The main voice in When You Reach Me is Miranda's, and throughout the novel we learn all about the things going on in her head. Her most intimate thoughts and feelings are revealed to us as she tell...

Writing Style

Rebecca Stead's prose is plain and direct, especially when narrating a particularly important or revealing episode. With so many riddles bouncing around, the author can't afford to lose her readers...

What's Up With the Title?

All right fearless literary detectives, let's review the Five W's.They are:Who, What, Why, Where, and WhenThe Five W's are questions that help us break down the important parts of any story. They'r...

What's Up With the Epigraph?

"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious." – Albert Einstein, The World as I See It (1931)Stead pulls the novel's epigraph from a 1931 essay by all-around genius dude Albert E...

What's Up With the Ending?

Like any good mystery novel, the ending of When You Reach Me gives us the answers we want – nay, the answers we need. Examples? We've got plenty.We learn why Sal stopped hanging out with Miranda....

Tough-o-Meter

When You Reach Me's is made up of tantalizingly brief chapters with clever titles. They're a treat for any level reader – especially those with short attention spans. The larger concepts in the...

Classic Plot Analysis

Miranda debates writing the letter. Mom prepares for the $20,000 Pyramid.The novel begins in medias res, a literary term from the Greek and Latin epic tradition that means we're already in the midd...

Trivia

Rebecca Stead was inspired to write a time traveling plotline by this news story about a man with amnesia (source).Just like Miranda, Rebecca Stead's hometown is NYC (source).The Laughing Man was r...

Allusions

Madeline L'Engle, A Wrinkle in Time (3.4-3.18, 14.35-14.70, 23.25, 30.15, 39.6-11, 43.5-19)William Shakespeare, The Tempest (3.24)Einstein, Relativity (14.60-64)Louise Fitzhugh, Harriet the Spy (23...
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