THE LIST OF THINGS THAT WILL NOT CHANGE, by Rebecca Stead, Wendy Lamb Books, April 7, 2020, Hardcover, $16.99 (ages 8-12)
Like many other readers out there, I’ve been struggling to hit my groove the past month or so. I’m happy to announce that the situation changed late last week with The List of Things That Will Not Change, by Rebecca Stead. It kickstarted my reading, and I’ve read 3.75 books since. So, first and foremost, thank you, Rebecca, for crafting a book that drowned out the outside world.
The List of Things That Will Not Change follows a girl adjusting to a new normal.
After her parents’ divorce, Bea’s life became different in many ways. But she can always look back at the list she keeps in her green notebook to remember the things that will stay the same. The first and most important: Mom and Dad will always love Bea, and each other.
When Dad tells Bea that he and his boyfriend, Jesse, are getting married, Bea is thrilled. Bea loves Jesse, and when he and Dad get married, she’ll finally (finally!) have what she’s always wanted—a sister. Even though she’s never met Jesse’s daughter, Sonia, Bea is sure that they’ll be “just like sisters anywhere.”
As the wedding day approaches, Bea will learn that making a new family brings questions, surprises, and joy, and readers will discover why the New York Times called Rebecca Stead a “writer of great feeling.” —Synopsis provided by Wendy Lamb Books
My parents divorced when I was 2. I always knew our family was different from others (divorce wasn’t as common in early ‘80s Utah). But nothing really changed for me. I don’t remember living with two parents.
In The List of Things That Will Not Change, Bea is at an age where she understands a lot, but not everything. Some things will not change. Lots of others will. It’s a lot to deal with at any age, and Bea does it admirably … most of the time.
The biggest strength of this book is its characters. Each one, even the minor ones, are well developed. From Bea’s parents and babysitter to her friends and new sister they all add dimension and heart. It’s Bea’s therapist, Miriam, however, who stole the show. A nonjudgmental adult who helps Bea organize her thoughts and work through her worries is someone we could all benefit from.
Bea is a joyful and optimistic protagonist that you can’t help but root for. While The List of Things That Will Not Change could have been dark, it is instead full of light and hope. It should appeal to a large cross-section of middle-readers.
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