Who do I want to be? Am I happy being that person?
I think these are two really big questions young kids think about. When kids are younger they play with who they want to play with without thinking about what it means for them, will others make fun of them. It's just about having fun. When kids are younger, all of their choices are to make themselves happy. They don't make choices to impress someone else, even if they know it's not nice, or kind, or feel right. Being content is just a way to be.
About the Book:
Title: THE WAY TO BEA
Author: Kat Yeh
Pub. Date: September 19, 2017
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
With a charming voice, winning characters, and a perfectly-woven plot, Kat Yeh delivers a powerful story of friendship and finding a path towards embracing yourself.
Everything in Bea's world has changed. She's starting seventh grade newly friendless and facing big changes at home, where she is about to go from only child to big sister. Feeling alone and adrift, and like her words don't deserve to be seen, Bea takes solace in writing haiku in invisible ink and hiding them in a secret spot.
But then something incredible happens--someone writes back. And Bea begins to connect with new friends, including a classmate obsessed with a nearby labyrinth and determined to get inside. As she decides where her next path will lead, she just might discover that her words--and herself--have found a new way to belong.
"I need a new way to be." - back cover of The Way to BEA
It's a big thought for young kids but in this coming of age story, I love watching Bea figure out who she wants to be. How Bea figures that out is what I wish for all young kids.
As the book opens, we know Bea is going through changes - her family is changing in size and she is no longer friends with her very best friend. As we get to know Bea, we come to understand that she is not someone who likes change. She knows what her quirks are but is not someone who is going to change them to fit in. She is an introvert who wears headphones, without always listening to music, just to avoid talking to people. She is a reader, a writer of haikus, and someone who puts together playlists. Adults, especially the teachers in the story, like her. The kids who she used to be friends with, don't like her.
But slowly, things start to change for her. She begins a new position at Broadside, the middle school newspaper, where she is starting as the poetry editor. Here she meets some characters that will have a lasting impact on her. First, there's Briggs. He is the kind of friend that will do anything for you, especially for Bea since he's got just a little crush on her. Bea learns from Briggs that kindness makes a person feel good. Then there is Will. Based upon his need for lists, and rules and structure, we know Will thinks a little differently. The older reader will pick up on the signs that this character is someone with Asperger's. Even though Will does not show his emotions, even though Will is someone who will tell you like it is, Will is someone who shows Bea how to be a friend.
Yeh also shows the opposite of what happens to Bea. While Bea slowly navigates the changing life of seventh grade, her former best friend does not have the same successes. I asked the question earlier, "am I happy being that person?" Everywhere I look, I can find people who probably aren't happy with the decisions they make, often because those decisions are based upon making others happy. This happens to middle schoolers all the time - they act in a way to make others around them happy, even at the expense of others. I like that Yeh shows the positive in Bea's choices and the consequences of her friend's choice.
I really loved seeing the importance of the arts throughout this book. Bea loves writing haiku poetry and figuring out how the words she wants to say can fit in this controlled poetic format. Bea uses poetry as a way to work through the changes that are happening around her. The concepts of mazes and labyrinths were used in the book and had important implications for Bea and her friends throughout the story. Music also factors in throughout the book. Bea is a fan of playlists and having music that fits the mood or the situation she is in. I love that Yeh includes a list of songs - a playlist - at the end of the book that tells us the songs that were going through Bea's mind in the story. I only wish it had been included at the beginning of the story so readers could be singing along with Bea!
I think this quote is important to think about and discuss. It made me pause and think about all that Bea learned and the importance it can have to all readers.
"This is the same path that I know so well, that I've walked hundreds of times, but today, all I can think is that the more you walk down a path, the more you start to feel that you can probably handle whatever it is you find at the end." pg. 310
This is a really important book to have in middle grade classrooms. The characters in this book provide the kind of positive role models readers need to see in books. Make sure you add a copy (or two) to your library!
About the author
Years ago, I added The Truth About Twinkie Pie to my TBR months before it had even published. After reading it, I knew I would always add Kat Yeh's books to my TBR! This book further cements Kat Yeh as one of my favorite authors.
Kat grew up reading, doodling, and scribbling in Westtown. She worked for many years in advertising and sports marketing, while writing children’s books in the wee hours of the night. She currently lives on Long Island where she can see water every day and explore all the bay and harbor beaches with her family.
Don't miss the other stops on this blog tour to learn more about the book and from the author!
9/18/2017- Jennifer Mary G.- Interview
9/19/2017- YAYOMG!- Review
9/20/2017- BookHounds YA- Guest Post
9/21/2017- Word Spelunking- Review
9/22/2017- Little Red Reads- Interview
Mrs. Knott's Book Nook- Review-
YA Book Madness- Review-
La La the Library- Review-
The Autumn Bookshelf- Interview-
Cindy's Love of Books- Review-
Would you like to win a copy of this book? 3 winners will receive a finished copy of THE WAY TO BEA, US Only. Good luck!
Thank you to Rockstar Book Tours for allowing me to come along on this awesome book tour!