Thursday, April 02, 2020

The List of Things That Will Not Change

Stead, Rebecca. The List of Things That Will Not Change
April 7th 2020 by Wendy Lamb Books
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Bea's parents are divorced, but she keeps a list that reassures her that her life is still okay. They have shared custody, and live close to each other, so she is able to keep herself fairly organized, although having two reminders about school projects would help. Her father has a posh restaurant, Beatrice, and his partner, Jesse works there. Jesse's sister Sheila frequently babysits her. She has good friends in Lizette and Angus, and sees a therapist, Miriam, to help her deal with the divorce and some anger management issues. Bea also suffers from fairly significant eczema. As her father and Jesse prepare to get married, we see Bea's every day life, but also flashbacks to other periods in time. One of these that recurs is the previous summer, when the family got together and her cousins gave her a hard time. One of those cousins, Angelica, fell out of a top bunk and wasn't hurt, but has recently been experiencing difficulties. Bea mentions that she is not a good person and did something bad over the summer, and eventually tells Miriam what this is and is able to deal with her guilt.
Strengths: This had a lot of good elements: Bea's dealing with divorce and going between homes, her extended family's acceptance (or rejection) of her father's sexual orientation, her relationship with Jesse's daughter, her school projects (making butter in a jar!), and her appointments with her therapist. I especially was glad to see a portrayal of a young person with eczema, as I have had several students struggle with that condition. Stead's When You Reach Me won the Newbery ten years ago, and many teachers and librarians are huge fans of her probing, lyrical writing.
Weaknesses: While Bea is in about fifth grade, she seems very young, and many of the anecdotes involve her life when she is even younger. This is a more character driven story, so there is not a lot that happens. The source of Bea's guilt was pretty obvious and not that compelling.
What I really think: I will pass on purchase because of the young feel and the NYC setting, which does not do well with my students. The exception to this is Mackler's Not If I Can Help It, but that circulates mainly due to the giant gummy bear on the cover!
Ms. Yingling

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