Review: Hazel’s Theory of Evolution by Lisa Jenn Bigelow

Hazel's Theory of EvolutionTitle: Hazel’s Theory of Evolution
Author: Lisa Jenn Bigelow
Genres: middle grade contemporary
Goodreads

“Just because you don’t understand it doesn’t make it illogical.”

Hazel knows all about life on Earth. She could tell you anything from what earthworms eat to how fast a turkey can run. That’s because when she’s not hanging out with her best friend, Becca, or helping care for the goats on her family’s farm, she loves reading through dusty old encyclopedias. But even Hazel doesn’t have answers for the questions awaiting her as she enters eighth grade.

Due to redistricting, she has to attend a new school where she worries no one will understand her. And at home things get worse when she discovers one of her moms is pregnant. Hazel can’t wait to be a big sister, but her mom has already miscarried twice. Hazel fears it might happen again.

As Hazel struggles through the next few months, she’ll grow to realize that if the answers to life’s most important questions can’t be found in a book, she’ll have to find them within herself.

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Last year I read Lisa Jenn Bigelow’s Drum Roll, Please and I loved it so much that it became one of my favorite middle grade releases of 2018, so when I heard that she was coming out with a new book and that this book was going to star an ace girl I was absolutely overjoyed. Naturally I requested it as soon as it appeared on Edelweiss and I started reading it as soon as I could.

As you can probably guess from that into I had pretty high expectations of this book. Well, maybe high expectations isn’t the right wording because yes, I did love Drum Roll, Please and yes, I expected to enjoy this book too, but for some reason I didn’t have that feeling of “yes, I’m going to adore this book with my whole being” like I sometimes do. But I think maybe I should’ve had that feeling, because I absolutely adored this book.

Hazel’s Theory of Evolution follows Hazel, a girl who goes to a new school and struggles with maybe losing her friend, finding new friendships, and with the fact that one of her mom’s is pregnant again after losing her last two babies, Miles and Lena.

The way this book talks about grief is so incredibly good, and the way Hazel grieves for her lost siblings and her fear of losing her new one is so palpable and real that I had tears streaming down my face at times. Seeing Hazel trying to be strong and positive for her moms, but being absolutely terrified and not allowing herself even one grain of hope in case she’ll get hurt again made me want to give her the biggest hug. Or maybe a science book, whichever she prefers.

I also loved the way this book explores relationships. Hazel’s relationship with her lovely family, her relationship with her best friend who seems to be fading away a bit and seeing her trying to deal with that, and Hazel’s relationship with her two new friends Carina, a transgender girl, and Yosh, a boy who uses a wheelchair and her trying to figure out how you even go about making new friends. Even the way Hazel treats her goats and her dog was lovely to read about.

As for the ace rep: this ace girl thinks it was handled pretty well. Hazel is very outspoken about the fact that sex doesn’t sound like a good thing to her and, when they’re discussing the “ideal partner” in health class she says she’d rather end up with herself. There’s no discussion of labels, but reading about her mom saying “It’s okay not to want to get married, it’s okay not to want romantic partners at all. It’s okay to want romance without sex, or sex without comance. And it’s okay to want neither. […] You don’t have to decide any of these things now. Life may surprise you. But whatever happens, whatever you decide is right for you, all of those things are okay. And when I say okay I mean good. There are so many good ways to be in this world.” meant the world to me and brought me to tears.

Overall, I absolutely adored this book and I would definitely pick up anything Lisa Jenn Bigelow comes out with in the future. And I can’t wait to scream at all of my friends to pick this one up once it gets closer to the release date.

Some Thoughts on the Bookish Community and Loneliness

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