My favorite books by Rebecca Stead are without a doubt LIAR & SPY and WHEN YOU REACH ME. Would her new story, THE LIST OF THINGS THAT WILL NOT CHANGE, surpass those previous titles? Keep reading to find out.

the list of things.jpg

Gay marriage has been explored before in middle grade books, most notably Richard Peck’s THE BEST MAN. Here though the young protagonist is a female. Bea’s parents have been divorced for two years. She has become accustomed to life in two different homes. You learn early on that Bea is looking forward to the marriage of her dad to another man.

The story is a quiet one with most of the plot relayed through reminiscing about the past. You’ll be introduced to other characters who have made a big impact on Bea, including her counselor/ therapist Miriam. You’ll also learn of events that still bother Bea deep down, ones she hopes to resolve by the wedding day.

Many of the chapters are short and they each bring understanding to Bea and her family.  An interesting read for sure, but for me it didn’t quite surpass my two favorite stories from Rebecca Stead.

BOOK BIRTHDAY: April 7, 2020  PAGE COUNT: 224


After her parents’ divorce, Bea’s life became different in many ways. But she can always look back at the list she keeps in her green notebook to remember the things that will stay the same. The first and most important: Mom and Dad will always love Bea, and each other.

When Dad tells Bea that he and his boyfriend, Jesse, are getting married, Bea is thrilled. Bea loves Jesse, and when he and Dad get married, she’ll finally (finally!) have what she’s always wanted–a sister. Even though she’s never met Jesse’s daughter, Sonia, Bea is sure that they’ll be “just like sisters anywhere.”

As the wedding day approaches, Bea will learn that making a new family brings questions, surprises, and joy, and readers will discover why the New York Times called Rebecca Stead a “writer of great feeling.”



  1. First person narration is a tough one to pull off, but here it is done without a hitch. It’s like Bea is sitting in your living room telling you her story. A kid voice the whole way.
  2. The beginning of this novel is revisited at the end. The sound of corn growing provides the bond.
  3. Bea’s therapist was my favorite character. She always had the right words to address each of Bea’s concerns, helping her open up more along the way.
  4. Many kids will find familiarity with the divorce theme and how Bea copes.
  5. Bea has a troublesome skin condition known as eczema. I’ve come across many kids dealing with it and this story should help them realize they are not alone.


To learn more about Rebecca Stead visit her entertaining web site. There you will discover:

All of her books

Her most important writing rule

Why there are days she doesn’t write at all

Her list of upcoming appearances


Please make a comment below!


About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
This entry was posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Completely Full Bookshelf says:

    I can’t wait to read this book, considering how much I’ve loved When You Reach Me and one of her other books, Goodbye Stranger! Thanks so much for reviewing it early!

  2. Joanne Fritz says:

    Great review, Greg! I am really looking forward to this novel. I’ve read all her novels so far. And I, too, love Liar & Spy and When You Reach Me. I even loved First Light and Goodbye Stranger. (I still need to read Bob, that she co-authored with Wendy Mass.)

  3. Thanks for this great review. I have a copy of this and can’t wait to read it, especially now that I know you liked it.

  4. Enjoyed your review, Greg! I like Rebecca Stead’s novel as well. I like that the narrative is first person, so you really understand how Bea is feeling! Kids will relate to this story, especially divorce. And I haven’t seen a story about a protagonist dealing with eczema, which is very common. My niece had it as a child.

  5. I got a copy of this from NetGalley and have had trouble getting into it. Thanks for your thoughts. I can see I have to give it another try. I’m sure my problems getting into it have more to do with my dealing with isolation than the story or writing.

  6. Natalie Aguirre says:

    I love Rebecca Stead too. I’ll have to check out the book you love–Liar and Spy–before I read this one.

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