Title: Hazel’s Theory of Evolution
Author: Lisa Jenn Bigelow
Published: 20 October 2020
Trigger Warnings: bullying, miscarriage, still birth, medical trauma, pregnancy, pregnancy after loss
Oh my word!! I cried buckets of tears as I read this book and after I finished it. But gosh, it was amazing! I absolutely love Hazel and her family and this whole book.
Hazel is pretty much your typical teenager. She’s trying to figure out how to survive her 8th grade year at a different school from her best friend (due to redistricting) without anyone noticing her. Hazel loves animals, all kinds of animals, even the ones that most people find gross, like skunks, cockroaches, and worms. She’s read through many animal encyclopedias when she’s not hanging out with her best friend, helping out with the goats on her family’s farm, or taking care of her dog.
But there are some things that can’t be answered by reading dusty old encyclopedias like what if she experiences the same bullying at her new school that she had at her old one? What will happen to one of her moms, who is pregnant again after having two miscarriages? Why do things have to change?
Oh my Hazel! I just want to wrap her up in my arms and give her a hug. Truthfully, she reminds me of myself, holding all the emotions and feelings in until they explode out. Hazel is excited for the new baby, but she’s also deathly afraid of what may happen to the baby and her mom. She tries to act happy, yet her moms can tell she’s lying.
At Hazel’s new school, she does start keeping her head down and remaining unnoticed, but she soon finds herself two friends, Yoshi (a cis-gendered Japanese-American boy) and Carina (a Mexican American trans girl) who accept Hazel, along with all of her quirks. Yet, as she finds these two friends, she finds she is slowly drifting apart from her best friend, Becca. Becca now is friends with Hazel’s bully and has joined the cheer squad. Hazel’s unhappiness about all the change is understandable during these formidable years.
There’s so much beauty and heartbreak and love in this book, that it overflowed and made me feel all the emotions that the characters themselves were feeling. I also loved the fact that there were such diversity in the book, not only with Hazel’s two new friends, but also one of her moms (the one who is pregnant) is Black. Becca and her family are practicing Jews as well. It was so great to see that in this book, as well as the foundational ideas of an asexual character in the book. Bigelow never came out and actually used the word asexual to describe Hazel. It is hinted at throughout the book that Hazel is asexual and the author spells it out at the end with her author’s note.
Even though this is listed as a book for those between the ages of 8 and 12, I definitely would recommend it to anyone of any age.
Happy Reading Darlings!