Lev Grossman’s The Magicians is almost impossible to enjoy. The darker, more mature cross between The Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter, The Magicians follows the school years of Quentin Coldwater, a miserable, isolated genius who is admitted into a secret university of magic. It unflinchingly (and increasingly depressingly) depicts his constant quest for happiness as he navigates his way through classic adult rites of passage. Despite its admirably ambitious thematic goals, the book fails to maintain a strong, engaging plot and ultimately loses the reader. – Monica K. ‘14
Stead’s book accomplishes what I like best in a novel. The story of twelve-year-old Miranda is beautifully simple, yet littered with moments of wonderful insight.
Miranda is not especially anything — not suffering some great injustice nor blessed with exceptional intelligence or beauty. Maybe it is her ordinariness that makes her and her story so hypnotic. When the story opens she’s inexplicably estranged from a life-long friend and neighbor Sal. In the void, she ends up making some surprising — and yes, even magical — discoveries elsewhere. L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, a favorite of both the author and Miranda, provides a subtle time travel motif.
While When You Reach Me is at home in the genre of young adult literature, somehow it doesn’t read like Stead was writing it just for teens. Adults should read it, too. This book is a lovely and perfect small miracle. – Mrs. Vaughan, Harker librarian