The List of Things That Will Not Change
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."
Bea's father came out as gay when they got divorced, and he has been dating Jesse for a long time. Bea loves Jesse, and she is overall excited when her father tells her they will be getting married. She is even more excited when she realizes she will have a sister in Jesse's daughter who lives across the country. Bea has always wanted a sister. At the same time, she is navigating fifth grade and dealing with eczema.
What I loved: This book is told in a series of almost essays that flow so beautifully. Even as an adult, I was completely gripped by Bea, her family, and her life. The book is filled with love, and Bea herself radiates this, even when she doesn't think two steps ahead as her therapist encourages her to do. The book deals lightly with homophobia from outside characters as well as the complexity of emotions (explained so fantastically) and the trouble with secrets and guilt.
I loved that we get to see Bea's therapy appointments, and this can be immensely helpful for young readers to see. I also love her empathy that is omnipresent throughout the book as she notices how others and herself feel, and when emotions are hiding behind other emotions (like when you are angry about something but behind that you are also sad). Between Bea's letters to her sister, her interactions with her parents, and her friends and experiences, this is a completely enchanting story. I would recommend it for readers of all ages.
Final verdict: Highly compelling and full of charm, THE LIST THINGS THAT WILL NOT CHANGE is a beautiful book about life, love, and personal growth perfect for middle grade audiences. Highly recommend for fans of HURRICANE SEASON and SONG FOR A WHALE.