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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

AUDIOBOOK: 'When You Reach Me' written by Rebecca Stead, narrated by Cynthia Holloway


From the BLURB:

Four mysterious letters change Miranda's world forever.....

By sixth grade, Miranda and her best friend, Sal, know how to navigate their New York City neighborhood. They know where it's safe to go, like the local grocery store, and they know whom to avoid, like the crazy guy on the corner.

But things start to unravel. Sal gets punched by a new kid for what seems like no reason, and he shuts Miranda out of his life. The apartment key that Miranda's mom keeps hidden for emergencies is stolen. And then Miranda finds a mysterious note scrawled on a tiny slip of paper:

I am coming to save your friend's life, and my own.
I must ask two favors. First, you must write me a letter.

The notes keep coming, and Miranda slowly realizes that whoever is leaving them knows all about her, including things that have not even happened yet. Each message brings her closer to believing that only she can prevent a tragic death - until the final note makes her think she's too late.

Written by: Rebecca Stead
Narrated by: Cynthia Holloway
Length: 4 hrs and 19 mins
Unabridged Audiobook

Rebecca Stead is one of my favourite authors writing today, and when I first read ‘WhenYou Reach Me’ (winner of the 2010 John Newbery Medal) I instantly wanted to re-read it. It’s just one of those books that’s both so clever and heartfelt, that once you finish reading you want to go back and trace the author’s steps (all those breadcrumbs she left behind) but you also just want to hang out with the characters again.

Sadly – as readers can attest – you can’t ever read something a second time in quite the same way as the first. It’s not that the magic is gone, or the shine’s worn off. Rather, that you can only look on something with fresh eyes once. It’s why I’m always a little bit envious when somebody says they’re going to start reading one of my all-time favourite books … I’m just a little bit jealous of their first time discovering those characters and that story.

But, I have found a new way to re-read beloved books that does bring some new perspective to them, and is probably as close as anyone can get to discovering a story anew for the second time. Audiobooks, my friends. Audiobooks.

I was an audiobook hold-out for a long time. I couldn’t imagine the appeal of listening to something when I could be reading it and truth be told, I wondered if they were a bit of a cop-out. Then I had my hallelujah moment with ‘The Piper’s Son’ on audiobook, read by Michael Finney.

Admittedly, right now I’m enjoying revisiting old favourites on audiobook while I’m out walking. I know I need to start listening more to books that I’ve never read before – but for right now, I’m enjoying discovering new facets to old faithfuls.

Behold; ‘When You Reach Me’ by Rebecca Stead, unabridged audio narrated by Cynthia Holloway. Author and children’s book-buying specialist Emily Gale highly-recommend this audiobook, and she was not wrong.

Cynthia Holloway captures Miranda’s voice so well and generously, I felt all of her twelve-year-old woes, particularly around her best friend Sal cutting off their friendship. I remember when I read the book that I loved details of Miranda’s home-life, with her single-mum and her mum’s boyfriend Richard. But listening to the audiobook I was struck by the friendships Miranda is developing with Ann-Marie, Colin and Marcus – these characters who I now paid so much more attention to, as this was a re-reading and I knew how important they each were to the story. Even Julia – Miranda’s pseudo-nemesis – was beautifully portrayed, her middle-school tragedy emphasised when running alongside Miranda’s friendship woes and triumphs.

In listening to the audiobook I was able to appreciate the intricate plot a lot more, and just the interiors of Miranda’s school life and budding friendships were beautifully articulated. I would highly-recommend this audiobook for and young readers who loved Stead’s book and want to love it in a new way – listening to the story is just as enjoyable as reading the book was that first-time round!

5/5

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