America has long been described as the great melting pot, and the same goes for late 1970s New York City. In When You Reach Me, we get an idea of the complex communities of people who live in the city. The novel's characters come from varied backgrounds. Miranda's family is poor and white, for example, yet she goes to school with many wealthy people. Julia, on the other hand, is a person of color, and she comes from a privileged background. Annemarie, meanwhile, is both white and privileged. The Laughing Man, a homeless man who lives on the street near Miranda's apartment, also plays an important role in Miranda's life. With its diverse cast of characters, the novel confronts the complicated issues of race and class in America – including racism and classism.
When You Reach Me shows an accurate picture of American families today, across social classes.
Though they come from different social classes, Miranda and Julia are more alike than they are different.