Plot: Miranda is a latchkey kid. She lives in New York with her single mother and she knows how to take care of herself. She knows how to deal with people who scare her, to always have your key ready before reaching the door and she knows how to avoid the laughing man on the corner of her street. But she doesn’t know what to do when her best friend Sal starts avoiding her. Then suddenly she starts to receive mysterious notes from an unknown source. The author of these notes seems to know things he shouldn’t be able to know and he claims that he needs her help to save the life of someone he cares about.
I was tricked into reading a time travel story! Despite being a huge Sci-fi geek (and though both my favorite video game and 2 of my favorite DS9 episodes are about this very subject), I don’t usually like time travel stories. There’s always a paradox and they hurt my head. But I’m glad I was tricked because this is a beautiful, elegantly constructed novel with a fascinating puzzle at its center.
The chapters are very short, written by Miranda to an unknown “you”. As the story progresses, Miranda and the reader begin to suspect the true identity of this “you” and the answer is perfect and tragic at the same time. I was completely enthralled. But though there is a sci-fi element, this is first and foremost a story about friendship and about the like mistakes and misunderstandings in life. It is about Miranda making new friends and learning to really see the people around her.
There are many references to another classic time travel story, A Wrinkle in Time, which Miranda reads obsessively. I confess: I haven’t read it. Time travel phobia aside, the cover of my childhood copy really freaked me out. But Miranda is so passionate about it that I really want to give it a second chance.
So there you have it: an intelligent, engaging book that encourages further reading. If that’s not worth a Newbery award, I don’t know what is.
I’m also definitely going to check out Stead’s newest book Liar & Spy.