Bea Is for Blended

HarperCollins. May 2021. 304p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062878168.
Gr 4 Up–Bea’s life has centered on her mom, grandmother, and aunt Tam. Now she has to handle a stepdad and three stepbrothers, one of whom is her nemesis from school and the soccer field. Bea juggles complex emotions as she deals with moving, sharing her mom, and coping with Bryce, the stepbrother she tries to ignore. Bea’s old life revolved around the women in her family, her best friend Maximilian (who is neurodiverse), and her fame as a soccer star. She doesn’t need anything else, except the all-girls soccer team that her school has promised. However, more conflict is on the horizon, in the form of a new soccer-star neighbor girl and the school principal/soccer coach, who is not a fan of the spunky protagonist. A twist midway through includes a new soccer player who uses American Sign Language. Stoddard’s dialogue is readable, the story is well paced, and the characters are endearing. The character development highlights overlapping strengths and weaknesses among the various players, all building to create a rich community of schoolmates and family. Bea and Bryce slowly realize they have some common emotional bumps and bruises as they each grow in unexpected ways. Characters’ skin tones are not described.
VERDICT A little bit coming of age, family drama, sports hype, and school shenanigans all rolled into one for an appealing read.

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