A slim, perfect book about love, death, friendship, being 12, and time travel - and a love letter to Madeleine L'Engle's 'A Wrinkle in Time' to boot.
I ordered Stead's book through the public library after finding out it was the winner of last year's Newbery Medal. When I picked it up and saw the big print, I felt disappointed; I'd been excited, but thought that even with my growing passion for children's and YA novels, this was going to be too simple.
I took it home anyway, figuring I'd give it a few pages. And I was immediately hooked. The book might be aimed at 10 year-olds and up, but it's completely engrossing. Miranda, the central figure, is one of the most appealing female characters I've found in a long time, and the book is beautifully and tautly written, managing to be both a straightforward narrative, and a mystery with time-clues dangling throughout.
Rebecca Stead also includes, in Miranda's voice, two of the loveliest evocations of the way you can feel about a book when you're 12:
'The truth is that my book doesn't say how old Meg is, but I'm twelve, so she feels twelve to me. When I first got the book I was eleven, and she felt eleven.'
'I was getting annoyed. The truth is that I hate to think about other people reading my book. It's like watching someone go through the box of private stuff that I keep under my bed.'
If you have a daughter, you should buy this book for her. No matter how old she is.