“The List of Things That Will Not Change” by Stead

List Of Things That Will Not Change book cover

Title: The List of Things That Will Not Change

Author: Rebecca Stead

Publisher: Random House 2020

The Plot: Ten year old Bea’s parents have recently divorced amicably and are now living in separate residences. Her father has come out as gay and will soon be marrying his boyfriend Jesse. While adjusting to these changes, Bea mostly has positive feelings about the upcoming marriage and is especially excited about meeting Jesse’s daughter Sonia who is also 10. As Bea adapts to the changing relationships in her life, she makes several decisions that create discord among her family.

My Take: I found this book to be a strong middle grade realistic fiction read because Rebecca Stead captures the mix of feelings that many children of divorce experience. Instead of having Bea wallowing in hurt and grief over her parents split, Stead chooses the more interesting approach of allowing her to experience joy and excitement over the new lives that her parents are building. I also appreciated how Bea’s character changes in the reader’s mind over the arc of the story. We learn things about how her that make her more interesting. Stead should also be given credit for adeptly handling the issue of a gay parent without making it feel forced or contrived. The author nests the topic of gay marriage within the wider scope of the family and builds the book on believable characters. This credible presentation of a contemporary mixed family prevents “The List of Things That Will Not Change” from becoming simply an ‘issues’ book.

One Interesting Thing About The Author: According to her website, Rebecca Stead’s parents, much like Bea’s, were divorced when she was growing up and had separate residences. No doubt Stead drew on these experiences when writing this book.

See You At Harry’s by Jo Knowles

See you at Harry's

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

Series?  No

Audience Age:  12-16

Rating (1-5):  3

The story in no more than five sentences:

Middle school for Fern is off to a bad start.   Her family owns a restaurant and her dad has created a commercial that features every member of the family shouting “See You At Harry’s!”  Her older brother Holden, mercilessly teased at school for being gay, seems to be withdrawing from the family and towards his much older boyfriend.  The one bright spot is that she is growing closer to her cute friend Rand and he has a way of making everything seem alright.  When a tragic event occurs, the bonds within Fern’s family are tested to their utmost limits.

 The best part about the book in 1 sentence:

­­­­­­­­­­The best part of this book is the realistic and open portrayal of Holden’s sexuality in High School.

The worst part of the book in 1 sentence:

The worst part of this book is the cover that does not capture the inner tension within the book.

1 interesting note about the author:

Jo Knowles’s parents actually owned a restaurant in New Hampshire where she grew up.  Find out more at www.joknowles.com