When You Reach Me
Literature and Writing Theme
Our protagonist Miranda loves books – well, not books so much as one book: Madeline L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time. Miranda always carries around a copy of the book and is constantly comparing the people and situations in her life to characters and episodes from the book. While time travel is a central theme in both books, Miranda is very different from Meg Murry, the main character in A Wrinkle in Time. Miranda is a latchkey kid living in New York City with her single mom and no dad in sight. Miranda must learn to let go – just a little bit – of the book she loves so much and see that she is her own character with her own story.
Note: When a book references other books it's called "intertextuality" (see our section on "Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory: A Wrinkle in Time"). That's when a book talks to – and about – other books. Other books are referenced in When You Reach Me as well, such as Harriet the Spy. (23.24)
Questions About Literature and Writing
- What do the references to A Wrinkle in Time add to When You Reach Me? Why do you think Rebecca Stead talks about the book so much?
- What are the differences between Meg's mom (in A Wrinkle in Time) and Miranda's mom?
- What book is Marcus reading in the dentist's office? Why is this significant?
- Why won't Miranda read the other book Mr. Tompkin picks out for her?
- Who else owns a copy of A Wrinkle in Time in the novel?
- What does Miranda mean when she says that she'll hand the letter to Marcus and tell him, "Try not to land in the broccoli"?
Chew on This
Just as Miranda needs to expand her friendships beyond just Sal, Miranda needs to expand her reading beyond just A Wrinkle in Time.
The pairing of A Wrinkle in Time and When You Reach Me works well because both books are about time travel and love/compassion.