Bigelow, Lisa Jenn. Hazel’s Theory of Evolution. Fiction. HarperCollins, 10/2019. 325[+4]pp. $16.99. 978-0-06-279117-7. OUTSTANDING. GRADES 4-8.
Hazel Brownlee-Wellington is spending her eighth grade year in a new school, trying to survive until high school—when she’ll be able to reunite with the one friend who seems able to accept her. With an older brother who has opted to delay his freshman year at Stanford, one mom navigating her third high-risk pregnancy after two miscarriages, and another mom trying to pick up the slack on the family’s goat farm, Hazel has a lot of time on her own to delve into Darwin’s theories of evolution and come up with some observations of her own. The characters in the book are diverse on many levels, and the conflicts and conversations around race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender assignment, and disability are both believable and well crafted to engage the book’s intended audience. Coming of age and coming into focus as an individual, Hazel is a heroine who can both milk goats and examine their taxonomy in a convincing and compelling manner.
Lesley Mandros Bell, Oakland Library Advisory Commission