The Way to Bea

Book review by
Amanda Nojadera, Common Sense Media
The Way to Bea Book Poster Image
Charming, must-read story of friendship and self-acceptance.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Kids will learn the difference between haiku and free-verse poetry, the difference between a maze and a labyrinth, and about Asperger's syndrome.

Positive Messages

Although Bea often skips school and the characters trespass on private property, there are plenty of positive messages for middle schoolers. It's important to find your own path, be brave, and believe in yourself. Don't be afraid to share your thoughts and ideas with others. Friends sometimes grow apart from each other, but that doesn't mean you won't find where you belong with people who accept you for who you are. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Bea learns how to be a good friend and also how to love and accept herself. Will teaches Bea to be brave and shows her the importance of listening and observing. Briggs is kind and caring. He appreciates Bea's love of words and encourages her to share her poetry with others. Mrs. Reegs knows how to connect with her students and recommends the perfect book to Bea to help her realize that she doesn't need to change who she is.

Violence

Kids think they're lost in a labyrinth at night. 

Sex

Talk of middle school crushes and learning how to deal with them.

Language
Consumerism

Without explicitly naming popular movies, TV shows, books, or songs, the book references The Karate Kid, Jerry Spinelli's Stargirl, Grey's Anatomy, Natasha Bedingfield's "Unwritten," Jimmy Eat World's "The Middle," and more. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Way to Bea is a charming coming-of-age story about a 12-year-old girl who uses her poetry to cope with the arrival of a new sibling and the awkward transition to middle school. Without explicitly naming popular movies, TV shows, books, or songs, the book references The Karate Kid, Grey's AnatomyJerry Spinelli's Stargirl, Natasha Bedingfield's "Unwritten," Jimmy Eat World's "The Middle," and more. The main character often skips school and trespasses on private property with a few kids, but there are plenty of positive messages for middle schoolers about friendship, courage, communication, and self-acceptance.

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What's the story?

In THE WAY TO BEA, the start of seventh grade is full of big changes for 12-year-old Beatrix "Bea" Lee. Her best friend is no longer talking to her, making her feel like an outcast at school. And she's about to go from only child to big sister, making her feel forgotten at home. The daughter of two famous, free-spirited artists, Bea copes with her loneliness by writing haiku with invisible ink and hiding them in a secret spot, believing that no one cares about what she has to say. But things change when someone finds her words, writes back, and asks for more poetry. As Bea starts to connect with her classmates, especially a boy who’s determined to find a way inside a local labyrinth, she learns the importance of self-acceptance and the meaning of friendship, and discovers where she belongs.

Is it any good?

Kat Yeh's charming novel of friendship and self-acceptance beautifully captures the awkward transition to middle school, making it a must-read for kids. Like Bea, kids might feel pressured at some point to act a certain way or to hide their unique talents in order to feel accepted. Her heartbreaking haiku about loneliness and invisibility perfectly capture the sadness and pain of a fading friendship. 

The Way to Bea reminds readers that loving yourself and having the courage to make your voice heard are key to forming meaningful friendships and finding where you belong.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how The Way to Bea explores the transition to middle school. Why do you think there are so many books about this? Have you found any that relate to your own experience?

  • Do you ever feel different or left out? When? Do you think others in your class or school feel that way? What can you do to help them feel included? How have new friends come into your life? How have you helped build new friendships?

  • How do the kids demonstrate courage and communication? Why are these important character strengths?

Book details

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love friendship tales and middle school stories

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