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Book Review: The List of Things That Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead

Warm-hearted and relatable, Rebecca Stead’s middle-grade novel The List of Things That Will Not Change is simply wonderful. Read on to learn more about this lovely book.

I received an advance copy of the book from Random House Children’s Books via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.  All opinions are my own. This post may contain affiliate links.

The Book

Book Review: The List of Things That Will Not Change by Rebecca SteadThe List of Things That Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead
Published by Random House Children's Books on April 7, 2020
Genres: JUVENILE FICTION, Family, General
Pages: 224
Buy on Amazon

The reassuring book kids and families need right now.

"An absolute original . . . a story that kids will love." --R. J. Palacio, bestselling author of Wonder

At a time when everything is changing for Bea and her family, the important things will always stay the same. A soon-to-be classic by the Newbery Award-winning author of When You Reach Me.

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."

"Uplifting without sentimentality, timely not trendy, and utterly engaging." --Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"No author writing today observes young lives with more clarity, tenderness, and grace." --Newbery Medalist Katherine Applegate, author of The One and Only Ivan

"Stead truly understands the inner life of kids." --Newbery Medalist Erin Entrada Kelly, author of Hello, Universe and You Go First


My Take

Straight up – I absolutely adored this book.

The writing is warm and funny, and the characters are relatable and REAL. The voice of this book is spot on for middle-grade readers, and the author tackles some tough subjects head on. She really understands anxiety and guilt and the anger that can come with it.

Bea is an endearing, layered character. She loves Star Trek; she suffers eczema; she is an anxious child, and this causes her to act out sometimes in ways that adults misconstrue. Her parents are understanding, and she sees a therapist to talk about her feelings. I LOVE this – it’s not often you get to see a character in therapy. Her therapist Miriam is kind, and we get to see their relationship develop. The talk about her anxiety is straight up, and I appreciate the tools she is given to deal with it, be it the green notebook with her list of things that will not change, or how she approaches the things that worry her.

I also thought her parents’ divorce was handled well, as was her dad’s coming out and subsequent remarriage. It was handled tastefully and matter of factly, as was the issue of homophobia that is brought in (gently). Her dad’s remarriage also introduces a half-sister, and the complex emotions for both of them around this situation are handled clearly and gently.

This is a book that takes on a lot of emotions and relationships and situations. Bea is pretty wise for her age, but she’s also still portrayed as the child she is in a way that other middle-school readers can relate. It’s just a lovely book, perfect for a time when emotions and fears and anxieties are likely high in its target audience.

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