Four mysterious letters change Mirandas world forever. By sixth grade, Miranda and her best friend, Sal, know how to navigate their New York City neighborhood. They know where its 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 Mirandas mom keeps hidden for emergencies is stolen. And then Miranda finds a mysterious note scrawled on a tiny slip of paper. 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.
One of the themes of this low fantasy, science fiction, and mystery book is time travel. The setting of the book, New York City in the late 1970s, draws attention to time right from the beginning of the story. Another clue that time is important is that Mirandas favorite book is A Wrinkle in Time. The main character is Miranda, a sixth grader, and the story is told from her point of view. The story has many little mysteries and puzzles to figure out and the first person narration allows the reader access to Mirandas thoughts. Friendship is another theme that weaves itself through the book; Mirandas strained friendship with her childhood friend Sal, her growing friendship with Julia and Annemarie, and the guilt she feels over her new friendship with Marcus.
Cynthia Holloway, a narrator of more than thirty audiobooks, does an excellent job portraying the voice of Miranda. There are many threads to this book; time travel, friendship, single parent family dynamic, social class differences, epilepsy, future goals, and dreams. Rebecca Stead does a great job of tying all the threads into one cohesive tapestry of a very engaging story.