The List of Things That Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead (2020)
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
When Bea’s parents tell her they are splitting up, they give her a green spiral notebook with a green pen. On the first page is the List of Things That Will Not Change. Number one, of course, is “Mom loves you more than anything, always.” And number two is “Dad loves you more than anything, always.”
Bea has trouble managing her feelings. Anger, joy, worry, embarrassment, and guilt don’t always know where to go in Bea, sometimes leading to hurt feelings, injured bodies, profound loneliness, and judging glances by her classmates’ parents.
But she has this notebook, plus two adoring homes and a friend named Miriam, whose office Bea visits once a week. Miriam helps Bea sort her feelings.
Two years after the divorce, she’s still carrying the notebook, occasionally adding to the growing List of Things That Will Not Change even as certain other things do change. Big things.
I continue to be blown away by Rebecca Stead’s agility navigating the daily tragedies of preteen life without a shred of condescension. The classmate bragging about a bottle of root beer. A parent’s new homosexual relationship. They are both highwires for Bea to traverse, and she handles this one gracefully and that one awkwardly, and she doesn’t know why, and the author handles it all with an amazing touch.
There’s a lot in The List of Things That Will Not Change for the middle elementary schooler to sort through, and a lot for the grown-up to help unpack. And it’s quite a rewarding story.