I had heard the buzz about this year’s Newbery Medal winner, by Rebecca Stead, ages ago, of course, but it only just made its way off my to be read pile and into my hands.
When I finished, I felt good about it winning the gold. Maybe it’s not the most literary of stories but it’s told in such an intricate and intriguing way that I can see why the Newbery committee selected it. The one thing that didn’t work for me was the reason Sal pushed his life-long friend, Miranda, away, but that didn’t stop me from thoroughly enjoying the story or from admiring the clever way the author played absolutely fair with the reader and yet worked such marvelous sleight-of-hand that the ending was quite the surprise. There was a nice level of creepiness (as opposed to too much creepiness) in the questions posed: who is writing Miranda those notes and how does the note-writer know so much about her? I love the relationship between Miranda and her mother, as well as Miranda’s relationship with Richard. And I especially admire that Stead tells this engaging story with zero explaining. We get thrown into Miranda’s world and are expected to figure stuff out for ourselves. As a reader, I love that!
I read Stead’s book a couple of months ago. I’m so out of it, I didn’t realize it had won the Newbery! We actually had a discussion about the book in my writing group on Monday. I had the same reaction as you. I loved the intricacy of how the plot was put together (and the suspense), but didn’t think the explanation for Sal pushing the narrator away was sufficient. A small flaw in an otherwise terrifically interesting read, however.
When Miranda has her big “aha” moment, I literally set the book down, turned to my husband, and said “Wow, I wish I’d written that.” I agree about the Miranda-Sal bit, though I was so glad it wasn’t a stereotypical reason like it could have been. In fact, that was the other thing I loved about this book: all the characters seemed to fall into nice, neat “types,” but there was always so much more to them by the end of the book. Such a great read, and it was great to meet her last week!
I enjoyed this book, especially being thoroughly involved in Miranda’s life through her eyes. I didn’t get the break with Sal either–perhaps I need to read it again. Will reader’s be more interested in classics again if they are woven into the plot of new stories? I sure hope so!