Time travel, especially literary time travel, is the kind of thing that can make your head hurt if you start thinking about it too much. If the time travel in A WRINKLE IN TIME or HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN has you scratching or shaking your head in puzzlement, Rebecca Stead’s new novel just might help you figure things out.
Stead gained a reputation for incorporating scientific ideas into entertaining narratives with her debut novel, rebecca LIGHT, about a previously undiscovered society living below the ice in Greenland. She continues exploring mathematical and scientific concepts in her newest work, doing so in clever and often surprising ways.
Miranda knows that she and her mom aren’t rich, but they manage to get by in their rundown apartment in their slightly sketchy New York City neighborhood. Miranda’s mom, a paralegal who’s balking at the thought of moving in with her boyfriend, dreams of fame and fortune on the popular “$20,000 Pyramid” television show (the year, by the way, is 1979). As for Miranda, she’s more worried about just making it through the day without getting harassed by the bullies who haunt the sidewalks between school and home or being accosted by the elderly homeless “laughing man” who lives on their corner. He chants weird sayings, and he sometimes seems oddly insightful --- or sometimes just plain crazy.
Lately, Miranda has had to navigate this tricky territory --- not to mention the pitfall-laden halls of school itself --- on her own, since her best friend Sal has suddenly decided to act like she doesn’t even exist. Why is Sal so distant? Why does the big boy who beat Sal up actually seem gentle, even wise? Can Miranda find happiness with other friends, even if they come from fancier apartment buildings and have more money than she does?
Questions abound, but the biggest mystery of all is who is sending Miranda scarily prophetic notes. These letters mention specific times and places of things that haven’t yet happened when Miranda receives them but that, eerily, come to pass