The Way to Bea by Kat Yeh (review)
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Reviewed by
Yeh, Kat The Way to Bea. Little, 2017 [352p]
Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-316-23667-6 $16.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-316-23665-2 $9.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 6–9

After an incredible summer trip to Taiwan with her family, Beatrix Lee never imagined she would return to start seventh grade friendless—still reeling from the major social faux pas that marked the end of her friendships—and about to become a big sister. Bea finds solace in using invisible ink to write haiku that she leaves tucked in a secret outdoor location, and it’s an understandable surprise to her when someone responds anonymously. As the school’s reluctant first-ever seventh-grade poetry editor, Bea becomes part of a new social circle, including Briggs, the eclectic editor who can wistfully quote Bea’s poetry even though they have never met, and Will, a socially awkward boy obsessed with gaining access to a mysterious private labyrinth in town. As Bea’s friendship with Will unfolds, they embark on an unforgettable adventure that ends up involving additional friends—old and new—on a journey none of them ever imagined. Yeh exquisitely captures the feelings of a preteen as she begins to question who she is and what her role is in social spaces and within her own family. Haiku and other poems embedded throughout the text delicately bring Bea’s shifting emotions to life. In this coming-of-age story, Yeh shows readers that sometimes life is a labyrinth, with one path leading to one destination, and other times it is a maze, where many paths lead to multiple destinations. Bea’s journey of self-discovery reminds readers it is important to be present for the journey of finding one’s own voice and place. [End Page 47]

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