by Rebecca Stead
Stead has written a Newbery Medal-winning love letter to Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. That’s right, I read kid’s, err, â€œyoung adultâ€ books. My theory is a good story is a good story.
Is this a good story? Yes. It even has some charm that will appeal only to adult readers of the book — who else will remember functional payphones or the $20,000 Pyramid with Dick Clark? (It is set in the 1970s, but not overbearingly so.) The central character is twelve year old Miranda, a smart kid on the threshold of deeper emotional understanding. The multiple story lines weave in her mom and mom’s boyfriend Richard; mix of friends or maybe not friends Sal, Collin, Annemarie, Julia, and Marcus; a group of neighborhood bullies; neighborhood crazy homeless guy â€œthe laughing manâ€ and a series of disturbing notes from a stranger who knows things there is no way to explain… or is there?
Miranda does manage to piece together what she needs to, though there isn’t an easy ending. When the mysterious note writer says â€œI am coming to save your friend’s life, and my ownâ€ you know there probably shouldn’t be.