My all time favorite novel is When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. Sure, it was written for kids, but sometimes those are the very best kind of books. As this is my eighth time reading it, (I know, I hear you saying, “Still reading that same book?”) I figured I’d do something a little different. Every time I got to a line I really loved, I highlighted it. Once I finished I had accumulated 52 highlighted quotes. Then came the hard part. Choosing ten out of those 52 that I loved so much.
Don’t worry, I left out the quotes with spoilers, so if you haven’t read When You Reach Me yet, you can still be left with your jaw hanging open at the end of the book. Here’s my top ten lines and why:
“But at the exact same time I got nervous about that, I also got this other feeling, which I can only describe as love for Annemarie’s elevator.”
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve relished in that feeling. Maybe not about elevators per se, okay fine, sometimes elevators, but there are some things, some places, that trigger a memory or a feeling, in a way that brings you to love them so much.
I’m getting butterflies just thinking about those places I love so much. There’s this one road on a hill, by the ocean, with houses dotting the beachside, every time I feel that salty wind on my face coming through the car window, I get this overly excited feeling. Just because I know that I’m almost to the place where I’m going to make a million memories. I think that’s what Miranda was getting at, why that feeling was flooding through her veins, why she couldn’t help but love an inanimate object.
“It’s the sort of thing a person would never try to explain to anyone else.”
This was the strangest one that I found myself coming back to time and time again. It’s not so much that quote. It’s what happens afterwards. Despite the fact that Miranda was certain that no one would want to hear about the shapes made from her hexagonal bathroom tiles, she went ahead and told Sal anyway. And Sal didn’t just say “cool”. Sal went with Miranda to go stare at the bathroom floor together and see what shapes they could find.
Sometimes we’re so scared of saying something embarrassing or weird or people not understanding. But we can’t get so caught up on saving face all the time that we miss memories we could have made.
“Mustard always makes my lips burn, but I didn’t care. It was worth it.”
The minute I read this my mind flashed back to loading three different flavors of specialty mustards on my gigantic bratwurst in Leavenworth. I remembered biting in to the soft bun, with a little bit of crunch surrounding the sausage, juice oozing out the meat, sweet apple cider sauerkraut warming my mouth, the spicy honey flavored mustard dancing on my tongue like fire crackers.
This quote was as much about food to me as it was about life though. You have to compromise a lot in life. Sometimes you got to take the bullet so that you can bring smiles to yours and others faces. If you make the right decision, even when it’s hard, it’s worth it.
“Trying to forget really doesn’t really work. In fact, it’s pretty much the same as remembering.”
So many times have I tried to forget people, or memories, or places, or problems, or even food when I’m on a diet (haha), but it never works. Because I’m so busy trying to forget, that I’m basically spending all my time remembering. Plus, this is one of those rare quotes that I’ve actually quoted. I’ll think of it when I realize I’m hard at work trying to forget something, and then I’m walking down the street giggling, while everyone looks at me like I’m a maniac. We all need to remember this every once in a while, to remind us to either solve the problem or if we can’t, do something that makes us think about other things.
“When the veil lifts, we can see the world as it really is, just for those few seconds before it settles down again. We see all the beauty, and cruelty, and sadness, and love.”
I think about this a lot. Sometimes I’ll just be watching people at a gathering and all of a sudden I feel like I can see everything, for just a few seconds. Or I’ll wake up one morning and my whole perception on life feels different, like I understand finally. It only happens sometimes, because us humans are normally so busy that we don’t stop and think. Most of us don’t have the emotional capability to be pondering all the time, we’d get too overwhelmed. Which is okay, but when it does happen, when that “veil” lifts, it’s beautiful. It’s just like Miranda says “It’s just her way of saying that most of the time, people get distracted by little stuff and ignore the big stuff.”
“They were circling each other and laughing and racing around and I wanted to be part of it so much that my heart almost broke watching.”
That says it all.
“He nodded and I wasn’t afraid anymore.”
First impressions. We worry so much about what people think of us. Especially when we meet them for the first time. But, as the saying goes, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” It matters more what we do after that first meeting than what we do at first. When you read a book, you don’t expect the character to be a hero at the very beginning of the story, that comes later on.
Marcus was kind of the bad guy at the beginning of the story, but Miranda learned that he was actually a pretty nice kid. A common theme in this book is about pushing past first impressions, because it’s a common theme in life.
“‘Well, it’s simple to love someone,’ she said, ‘But it’s hard to know when you need to say it out loud.'”
This was Belle’s most philosophical moment in When You Reach Me. And it’s a very profound statement.
Remember Spencer in Survivor Second Chance? It’s hard to tell someone you love them. Yes, actions speak louder than words. But, it’s the challenge of knowing when you need to whisper.
“No, when you see it in the light it’s really more of a caramel.”
There’s certain people that I’ve known in my life time that I could just sit and listen to them talk about an egg cooking or about petting a cat for hours and hours. Because their perception on the universe is fascination. Fascination about everything. And idealism. Some people get really bothered by idealists, mainly those who are realists. On the other hand, I find them fascinating.
Julia is an idealist, I think so anyway. Miranda went around her whole life believing that her hair was brown. But Julia saw it differently. It was caramel. And that’s what idealism is all about, seeing the best in every situation. Seeing the beauty in the most minuscule parts of the universe.
“And we are better this way, together because we want to be”
When you first become friends with someone you just spend time together when you want to. There’s no feelings of obligation. It’s just the sheer want to be together that causes you to make plans. But once you’ve known each other for years you hang out because your supposed to. Your mind is telling you that you should spend time with them because they’ve been your friend for so long. Then you’ve thrown your heart out the window, and you’re taking your friends for granted. We have to find a way to push past that mindset. To crawl back to spending time with our friends because we want to. Sometimes that means limiting the time we spend with them just so we can take a step back and remember what it was like to miss them. Then we can learn to cherish the time we have with them. Or maybe like I said, it’s just a frame of mind.
“There are days when everything changes, and this was one of those days.”
When I read this line, I couldn’t help but let a smile creep on to my face. I thought of all the times that I had felt that exact same way. And I just kept smiling.
Wait, was that eleven? Oops.
Let me know…
- What’s your favorite book of all time?
- Do you have a favorite When You Reach Me quote?
- If not, what’s your favorite literary quote?