48 pages 1 hour read

Rebecca Stead

The List of Things That Will Not Change

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 2020

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The Relationship Between Mental Health, Behavior, and Emotions

Content Warning: This guide and its source material addresses LGTBQ+ and anti-gay discrimination and bias.

Throughout Bea’s stories in the novel, Bea goes through major ups and downs and learns important lessons about herself and the impact her emotions and mental health have on her well-being. While Bea exhibited outbursts and the feeling of uncontrollable emotion in her earlier childhood, the catalyst for her mental health instability is first the choking incident with her father, and largely, her parents’ divorce. As Bea grows emotionally and works to understand herself and those around her, she informs the reader of her emotional obstacles and the progress she has made.

Bea calls herself a “worrier” (23) and believes that her worrying began when she saw her dad nearly choke to death, and that it worsened with her parents’ divorce. This insinuates that Bea first started consistently experiencing anxiety when she considered the ever-present possibility of losing a loved one. The divorce then removed the structure of her familial unit and reinforced her fear of losing the people she loves. Following her parents’ divorce, Bea exhibits instability in her mental health that mirrors the sudden instability in her home life. While Bea’s parents address Bea’s needs lovingly and attentively during this time of change, Bea’s life has still been unexpectedly upended.