cover image The List of Things That Will Not Change

The List of Things That Will Not Change

Rebecca Stead. Random/Lamb, $16.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-101-938096

When eight-year-old Bea’s father comes out as gay, her divorcing parents give her a notebook containing “The List of Things That Will Not Change,” an accounting that helps the girl navigate her shifting family landscape. Two years later, Bea is thrilled when her restaurateur dad and his adored boyfriend, Jesse, announce their engagement; the only child has always wanted a sister, and she can’t wait to welcome Jesse’s daughter, Sonia, into the family. But Sonia, who lives in California, has complicated feelings about the situation that surface when she arrives in New York City. It’s one of many interpersonal challenges that deeply sensitive Bea—an eczema sufferer who wears her heart on her sleeve—faces that year, contributing to growing feelings of guilt and worry. Newbery Medalist Stead’s knack for authentic tween voices (“I didn’t think I could live through that moment of everyone looking at me”) shines through in a first-person narration that explores Bea’s rich inner life as she learns, with help, to manage her anxiety. Bea’s interactions with her loving community convey particularly well-drawn dynamics that support themes of building resilience and savoring joy; together, these insightful moments layer into an affecting story of significant middle grade change. Ages 8–12. Agent: Faye Bender, the Book Group. (Apr.)