The List of Things that Will Not Change

Newbery Award-winning author Rebecca Stead has a gift for inhabiting the minds and hearts of young readers. In The List of Things that Will Not Change, she explores the messy feelings that come with divorce from the perspective of a daughter who bubbles over with love, rage, anxiety, shame and hopeful anticipation.

Bea is eight and already a bit of a worrier when her parents announce that they're getting a divorce because her dad is gay. They give her a notebook with the start of a list they call "Things That Will Not Change." Here they state certain unchanging facts: They will always love her. They still love each other, "but in a different way." And she will always have a home with each of them. Although she is reassured by the fixed new routines of the shared custody, Bea's anxiety gets worse, complicated by a developing problem with anger management. This is also the year she begins seeing a therapist, who explains that there are often "feelings behind feelings"--fear behind dislike, for example. And, behind fear, worry.

Stead (When You Reach Me; Goodbye Stranger; Liar & Spy) understands that the kinds of things a child worries about can be unexpectedly different from what an older person might fear: after the divorce, for example, Bea wants to know where her cat will stay. Bea's narrative, in Stead's hands, is droll, poignant and always realistic, whether she's angst-ridden about the fifth-grade colonial breakfast project or trying not to scratch her eczema. Stead masterfully explores the internal life of a girl going through both extraordinary and run-of-the-mill trials in a way that tells readers they are not alone in their complicated, contradictory feelings about the world. --Emilie Coulter, freelance writer and editor

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