I vaguely remember first hearing about When You Reach Me (2009) by Rebecca Stead, I think from another Cannonball review. It's probably not a book I would have found on my own, but it ended up on my kindle, so I read it. And it turned out to be a quick read: a well-written novel with a mix of growing pains, friendships, mystery, and science fiction.
Miranda is a sixth grader in New York City. She is smart and insightful and lives with her single mom in a rather rundown apartment building. Miranda's favorite book is A Wrinkle in Time, which she reads over and over again. Her mother was almost finished with her first year of law school when Miranda was born--derailing that dream before it began. When Miranda begins receiving mysterious notes that predict the future, the mystery of the novel is hatched.
I enjoyed reading this one--it took less than a day, but it wasn't the science-fiction and mystery that I remember at the end. The description of Miranda's thoughts and perspective was what impressed me most. Stead brought such realism to the angsty life of a pre-teen. Miranda's struggles of avoiding the homeless guy and boys on the street on her walk home, her concern of what her friends would think of her apartment, her first crush, and her realization of how she had the power to make others' lives better or worse were all very relatable and felt very true. The mystery kept the story moving, but almost felt out of place in this very normal, sixth-graders life. I guess I've just rarely seen such great characterization in a science-fiction novel.
And now I feel like I should re-read A Wrinkle in Time. I know I read it in elementary school, but besides thinking it was kind of confusing at the time, I can't remember anything about it.