Plenty of TV shows, movies, and novels try to tackle the tricky topic of time travel – what it is and how it works. Like other stories before it, When You Reach Me asks us to wrap our brains around this heady concept. Fortunately for us, our guide isn't a brainiac scientist with a chalkboard spouting equations, but a normal kid named Miranda who does a pretty good job of letting us in on how time travel works – that is, once she figures it out for herself.
And let's get one thing straight: the novel isn't only about time travel. As a theme, time is everywhere in this novel. The pages are littered with clocks and watches (see our section "Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory: Clocks and Watches"). Time is important to a tween like Miranda because she's growing up and time is passing. It's not just Miranda. Miranda's mom is trying to literally beat the clock on a game show. Then there's Marcus, who is trying to manipulate and move through time. You might just say that time is very, very important for all of the novel's characters (see our section "Antagonist: Time").
The novel shows that even small acts in the past will always have an effect on the present.