It’s so exciting when everyone is talking about a book and how much they love it and you request it and you read it and you love it as much as everyone else does.
I’m talking about When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead, about a transitional moment in the life of a 12-year-old girl growing up in New York City in 1978. It’s just one of those near-perfect books. She captures daily life so well, especially the New York elements, that I felt like a door has been opened in one of the rooms of my brain and I could see its contents more clearly. (Keys are a recurring image in this book, so the feeling is fitting.) Here are some lines I am in utter love with:
“Sometimes you never feel meaner than the moment you stop being mean. It’s like how turning on a light makes you realize how dark the room had gotten. And the way you usually act, the things you would normally have done, are like these ghosts that everyone can see but pretends not to. It was like that when I asked Alice Evans to be my bathroom partner.”
“On the way up, it hit me that it was truly strange to come over here without talking to Annemarie first. But at the exact same moment I got nervous about that, I also got this other feeling, which I can only describe as love for Annemarie’s elevator.”
I mean, how right-on is that? How often, in a moment of nerves or energy or emotion, do you fall in love with someone else’s elevator? I do it weekly, at least.
A strong thread of the book is mysterious and fantastical, and I enjoyed that, but what really got me was the details. I think I may be a ‘holding a mirror up to nature’ kind of reader, which is maybe too bad, because enjoying the realistic elements of this book more than the fantastical ones may be like appreciating an ice cream sundae for its whipped cream, but what the heck–everybody likes whipped cream on top.