Hazel Brownlee-Wellington is an encyclopedia of animal facts, lives on a goat farm, and is penning a guide to misunderstood creatures.
Not one to easily make friends, 13-year-old Hazel doesn’t plan to get close to anyone when she starts eighth grade at a new school. She just has to keep her head down until high school, when her life will return to normal with her reunion with her longtime best friend. Then one of her moms announces she’s pregnant. Mimi has already had two miscarriages; Hazel, understandably, refuses to be hopeful. She’s determined to live in denial until the new baby is born safe and healthy. Although she has a loving family, two new friends, and a herd of goats to keep her company, nothing is easy. She hopes On the Origin of Species will help her make sense of the changes in her life, but not even Charles Darwin can explain the challenges of growing up. Hazel’s emotional growth—her increasing understanding of who she was, is, and will be—is gradual. Her first-person narration is insightful; she’s highly likable, and her troubles and triumphs will sound familiar to many. Hazel, her biological mother, and her brother are white. The broad diversity among other characters is incorporated naturally: Mimi is black; one new friend, Carina, is a Mexican American trans girl, and another, Yoshi, a cis-boy, is Japanese American and uses a wheelchair.
Warm and memorable. (Fiction. 8-13)