Johanna has been living her life always aiming for perfection: perfect grades, perfect daughter, perfect student. Her parents are extremely strict, and in Johanna’s eyes, cold and never understanding. For some time she’s had a crush on Paul, the boy in class who never fails to make people laugh. She’s determined to grab his attention and once she does things change. Unlike Johanna, Paul doesn’t care what others think. He does whatever makes him happy, even at the cost of others. For Johanna, keeping Paul in a good mood is a never-ending struggle. If he isn’t happy, Johanna receives the blunt of his anger. How far will Johanna let this go on before she loses herself and those closest to her?
I wanted to read this book for a couple of reasons. One of the biggest reasons is because Patrick Jones is from Michigan and most of his stories take place in Genesee County. My students have shown an interest in his books as well. In one of my YA Lit classes, a student book-talked Things Change because it’s similar in plot to Breathing Underwater by Alex Flinn.
The story is told from two perspectives; most of it’s from Johanna’s perspective. We see Paul’s side of the story when he is drinking and writing to his dad. It took me a while to get into this book. Johanna is written as insecure, which works for the story, but her insercurities grew tiresome. After about 100 pages I was more interested in the book because Paul and Johanna’s relationship became more complicated and intense. I definitely recommend reading it, because the message Jones delivers is an important one. If you like Breathing Underwater and/or Dreamland by Sarah Dessen, then you’ll enjoy Things Change by Patrick Jones.