The List of Things That Will Not Change

Random/Wendy Lamb Bks. Apr. 2020. 224p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781101938096.
Gr 5-8–When 12-year-old Bea’s parents first divorced two years ago, they gave her a green notebook in which they had started a list of Things That Will Not Change, with numbers one and two being “Mom loves you more than anything, always,” and “Dad loves you more than anything, always.” Bea takes comfort in adding to her list; it helps her understand number six: “We are still a family, but in a different way.” When Bea’s dad and his partner, Jesse, first announce they’re getting married, Bea is thrilled—she loves Jesse, and she will finally have a real sister once they’re married. Jesse’s daughter, Sonia, lives across the country in California, and Bea is anxious that Sonia isn’t as thrilled as she is about the prospect of new family members. Bea sees a supportive therapist, Miriam, who assists her with her anxiety, her guilt over how she reacts to stressful situations, and other obstacles she encounters daily. When Sonia comes to New York for a visit, Bea assumes that Sonia doesn’t want her to be part of their new blended family. Stead masterfully captures the trials and tribulations both the girls are navigating. As the wedding planning ramps up, so do Bea’s anxiety and eczema, and the potential disaster Bea may have caused by secretly inviting Jesse’s estranged brother, Mission, to the wedding. Readers’ heartstrings will be tugged as the wedding isn’t all sunshine and happiness, and family dynamics are shown to be both powerful but sometimes flawed.
VERDICT The angst and worries that middle grade readers experience are brought to life through Bea’s authentic voice in this must-read title.

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