It's 1979 and twelve year old Miranda, while helping her mother prepare for a stint on ''The $20,000 Pyramid'', is thinking of all the events that happened the previous fall. If it was up to her, she'd probably not think about them. But then there are the notes asking her to do just that, to write down everything that happened last fall. Notes telling her that someone is coming to save both a friend and their own lives. Notes from a time traveler.

''When You Reach Me'' is a 2009 novel by Rebecca Stead with allusions to ''Literature/AWrinkleInTime''. Despite its time traveling elements and mystery, the book is at heart a ComingOfAge novel that subtly deals with social issues, racism, and the quiet dangers of late seventies New York. It won numerous awards, including the NewberyMedal.


!!This story provides examples of:

* BerserkButton: A childhood, non-violent version when Julia goes off on Miranda after Annemarie has a seizure at school. She calls Miranda an idiot about seven times in the course of a minute.
* BittersweetEnding: Even Miranda understands the terrible burden [[spoiler: Marcus]] will feel when he reads her letter and learns that [[spoiler: he watched his own death]] making a tragedy even worse for him.
* CantTakeAnythingWithYou: One of the later notes hints at this, saying "A man can only hold so much paper in his mouth."
* ChekhovsGunman: The [[spoiler: laughing man]] and his inexplicable actions suddenly make sense when you find out that he was [[spoiler: Marcus, traveling back in time from the future in order to save Sal's life]].
* ChildProdigy: Marcus. He reads Einstein's General relativity for fun at age 11. He also debated temporal paradoxes from the book ''Literature/AWrinkleInTime'' with his second grade teacher.
* {{Cloudcuckoolander}}: Marcus on occasion. He doesn't always notice people around him or where he is.
* CrazyHomelessPeople: The Laughing Man, though how much is an act and how much is real is in question. This makes a nice ShoutOut to ''Literature/AWrinkleInTime'', where Mrs. Whatsit is described as looking, in day-to-day life, like a homeless tramp.
* DeathByNewberyMedal
* DisappearedDad: Neither Miranda nor Sal has a father. Miranda even comments that because she never had a father, she doesn't feel the need for one.
* FantasyForbiddingFather: Julia's parents pick out her bedroom decor and will not let her decorate her room in her preferred space posters.
* FirstKiss: Knock, knock. Oh, it's you. Kiss.
* FridgeLogic: An InUniverse example, discussed in regards to ''Literature/AWrinkleInTime''. The three Mrs. Ws promise Meg and the boys that they should be back "five minutes before you left." But as Marcus points out, if this is true then Meg should have seen herself returning, because Meg and co. landed in the garden, in plain sight from the wall, where they left. Marcus is arguing a StableTimeLoop is in effect, while Miranda (very defensive of her favorite author) maintains that the future hadn't happened yet, so of course they wouldn't be seen. There is a simpler explanation, which no one InUniverse notices: Mrs. Whatsit says they'll be back five minutes before they left, ''unless'' "something goes terribly wrong." And something does indeed go terribly wrong.
* HeroicSacrifice: [[spoiler: Marcus chases after Sal to try to apologize. Future!Marcus sacrifices himself to push Sal out of the way of a moving vehicle, saving his life.]]
* HowWeGotHere: The story starts in the present (and told in the present tense). The story is Miranda narrating the story that she would tell from Sal getting punched to the fateful chase and death as that was the story she was tasked to write down.
* IdiosyncraticEpisodeNaming: Most chapters are references to ''The $20,000 Pyramid'' subjects, with titles in the form "Things that..." or "...Things". The few chapters that aren't references deal with the notes.
* InformedRealLifeFame: In an in-universe example, Miranda experiences this at work while watching a taping of ''The $20,000 Series/{{Pyramid}}''. ("The celebrities take the stage. I've never heard of either one of them.")
* InvisibleParents: While Annemarie's father is prominent in the few scenes he is in, her mother is only referred to in one scene. Julia's father is never seen while her mother is in the closet (her meditation room) when Miranda is at Julia's house one day.
* IJustWantToHaveFriends: Sal was a Type B. Ironically, he gave up his one friendship in order to get more friends.
* IHatePastMe
* JerkWithAHeartOfGold: Julia could be a jerk at times, even to Annemarie and especially to Miranda, but she truly cared for Annemarie. Miranda even found out that part of how Julia treated her was how she had treated Julia in the past and, after making the first move, Miranda did find Julie to be nice.
* OOCIsSeriousBusiness: Wheelie, the school secretary, knows all of the students, what class they are in, and even who is absent. But when the police come looking for Marcus, Miranda realizes just how bad the situation is when Wheelie asks them to repeat his name and ask what grade he is in.
* PottyEmergency: Alice Evans. She waits too long to ask to go to the point she does the PottyDance. It is implied that she has encountered PottyFailure as she is the only sixth grader with a change of clothes at school. Classmates love to keep her talking with them when she has to go just to watch her suffer.
* SetRightWhatOnceWentWrong: Whether this trope or StableTimeLoop is in effect all depends on how you believe the "Save your friend's life and my own" statement was fulfilled.
* TitleDrop: The first note has the phrase "I will not be myself when I reach you".
* TwoGirlsAndAGuy: Miranda, Annemarie, Colin. Is there a LoveTriangle? In Miranda's mind, yes. In reality, who knows?
* UnfortunateNames: Miranda hates that she was named after a criminal. Her mother was in law school in 1967, when Miranda was born.
* UnnamedParent:
** Miranda's mother. Surprising as two close friends of the mother are also frequent characters.
** While we find out Annemarie's father's name is Jerry, her mother goes unnamed.
* WritersCannotDoMath: The Tuesday after Thanksgiving is referred to as the first cold day in December. This takes place in 1978 and Thanksgiving was on November 23, meaning that Tuesday would be on Nov. 28. Marcus exacerbates this by telling Miranda to imagine she went to the movies the previous week, "December whatever". While he is a Cloudcuckoolander, Miranda does not correct him, which she is known to do.