When You Reach Me
by Rebecca Stead
Analysis: 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 When
The Five W's are questions that help us break down the important parts of any story. They're commonly used by reporters when covering the news or policemen when trying to solve a case. On the scene of a crime, for example, a reporter or policeman might ask:
Who was involved?
Where did it take place?
Why did it happen?
When did it happen?
As literary detectives, the important "W" we're investigating for When You Reach me is when. How do we know? Well, our biggest clue is right there in the title, now isn't it? WHEN You Reach Me.
The keyword when in the title hints to us that the mystery we're going to be solving has to do with time – with when the events of the novel take place. The clue also suggests that all the other questions we might come up with (who, what, where, and the always important why) are all secondary to the question of "when."
The when, of course, is the toughest part of the novel to understand, but it's also the most important part for both Miranda and the reader. Figuring out how the novel deals with time is the key to its many mysteries. Once you unlock that, the rest will follow.