When You Reach Me
by Rebecca Stead
Wow. This book took me completely by surprise. It's a coming-of-age story and a great mystery that will leave you with your jaw on the floor. I found myself feeling an unusual mixture of emotions at the end of the book... happy but sad, amazed and surprised... half laughing, half crying, utterly shocked, and completely satisfied.
The main character/narrator, twelve-year-old Miranda, lives with her single mom in New York City. The book is set in 1978, so kids reading it today will be surprised at how the world has changed.... sixth-graders were very independent, roaming the city on their own, and they didn't carry cell phones or iPods or play video games. BUT the issues of friends, popularity, money, relationships, bullying, etc. will all be familiar to them.
As for content, the only "language" is a couple of uses of deity as profanity, there is a brief kiss, mention is made of the mom's boyfriend not having a key to the apartment (thank goodness), and some brief mild violence. There are some pretty intense moments and somewhat mature themes, so I would recommend it for older kids and teens (both genders!)... and adults who love a good read!
Age recommendation: 12 years and up