The list of things that will not change by Rebecca Stead
Text Publishing, 2020. ISBN: 9781922268679.
(Age: 10+) Highly recommended. Rebecca Stead is a favourite author of mine, and she always writes with warmth and compassion about difficult topics. In this book she looks at the effects that divorce can have on a child and the notion of what makes a family. Bea keeps a list of things that will not change after her parents have divorced. Most important, both will still love her and she is happy when Dad decides to marry his boyfriend Jesse. She is thrilled at the idea of having a sister, even though Jesse's daughter Sonia, lives far away. She writes a series of letters to her, but Sonia finds it more difficult to fit into Bea's new family.
Bea's visits to a counsellor and the insights she gains there about her past actions and how she can manage her fears will resonate with middle grade readers, while appreciating the love that both parents give Bea. Stead does not paper over the difficulties of children who belong to families that are not the norm, but the love that the adults give Bea shines through the story and the support that she receives from them and her friends is heart-warming. Children who belong to families with two dads, or two mums, will be strengthened by this insightful portrayal of family love and children who belong to traditional families will gain an understanding of family love and the importance of friends helping each other.
It is a story that demonstrates tolerance, resilience and empathy and would make a wonderful literature circle novel, as would others by Stead, including the award winning When you reach me, Liar and spy, Goodbye stranger and Bob.
Teacher's notes are available.