Forever Changes

Forever Changes

by Brendan Halpin


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For a girl who doesn’t have much time, every infinitesimal moment counts 

Brianna is a math whiz. She’s almost certain to be admitted to MIT—that is, if she survives to see her nineteenth birthday. Brianna has cystic fibrosis, and after her friend Molly died six months ago, it’s hard for Brianna to let go of the feeling that she’s next. Numbers make sense to Brianna—they give her something to think about besides her own crummy odds. To her great surprise, it is in math class that she discovers the infinity that exists between eighteen and nineteen.
Poignant and true, this story of one extraordinary teenage life is riveting. With  Forever Changes , Brendan Halpin has crafted an unparalleled protagonist who will leave an indelible mark on readers.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781504041638
Publisher: Open Road Integrated Media LLC
Publication date: 09/27/2016
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 1,245,106
Product dimensions: 5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x (d)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

Brendan Halpin is a teacher and the author of books for adults and young adults including the Alex Award–winning  DonorboyForever Changes , and the Junior Library Guild Selection  Shutout. He is also the coauthor of  Tessa Masterson Will Go to Prom , with Emily Franklin, and  Notes from the Blender , with Trish Cook, both of which the American Library Association named to its Rainbow List. Halpin’s writing has appeared in the  Boston Globe , the  Los Angeles TimesRosie  and  Best Life  magazines, and the  New York Times ’ “Modern Love” column. Halpin is a vegetarian, a fan of vintage horror movies, and an avid tabletop gamer. He lives with his wife, Suzanne, their three children, and their dog in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston.

Read an Excerpt


As the warm sunlight faded, there was a faint chill in the breeze coming off the harbor. Brianna popped a pill, washed it down with water, and ate a tortilla chip. Dad took a long pull on his Corona. They were the only people sitting on the terrace of Captain Cancun’s Mexican Ristorante on the Tuesday after Labor Day.

"So," Dad said, and with that one word, she could tell he was about to hit on some topic she didn’t want to talk about. That "so," delivered with that expectant tone, was always the way he launched

them into some kind of awkward discussion she didn’t want to have. "So," he’d say. "Any cute boys in class this year?" or "So. How’s the hangover?" or, tonight, "So. When are we going to go college visiting?"

Brianna dipped another chip and looked out at the harbor. Just at the line of the horizon, she could see a boat. As she watched, it disappeared over the horizon, off to sea, off maybe to Spain,

where it would end up if it kept going straight from here all the way across the Atlantic Ocean. Except it wouldn’t be straight, because the idea of straight on a curved surface was kind of sketchy.

It would actually be a direct line following the curvature of the earth.

"I dunno. I mean, I don’t think . . . Melissa wants us to take the commuter rail in so she can have a tour and an interview at BU. So maybe I’ll just do that."

"I looked on the Web site. MIT has info sessions twice a day. I really think you should schedule an interview and go, Bri."

Suddenly, the tortilla chips were very interesting. She picked one up, thought briefly that calculating the area of this chip would be difficult because, again, it wasn’t a collection of points in a two dimensional plane, it was a three-dimensional surface with a pronounced curvature. All the better to scoop up the last of the salsa. As she scraped it from the bottom of the white bowl, Brianna decided she didn’t want to fight tonight. She was finally feeling better, and even with that little chill in the air reminding her that school was starting in two days, it still felt like summer. She wanted to hold on to this night, this last glimpse of summer, and not screw it up with tears and name-calling and telling Dad what he didn’t want to hear. She looked out at the harbor, felt the breeze on her face, and thought she’d probably never see the end of summer again, so it was just easier to say, "Okay, Dad."

Dad’s shoulders relaxed. He’d been gearing up for a fight, and she could see the relief on his face. "Thanks," he said.

Brianna smiled. "Least I can do."

Dad said, "Well, we’ve gotta be up early tomorrow. I guess we should hit the road." Brianna knew he also didn’t want her on the back of his bike after dark, but she decided not to bust his chops.

Dad raised his arm to signal the waitress, and the sleeve of his T-shirt slid up slightly, revealing the tattoo of Brianna’s name and birth date inside a heart. The waitress came over, and Brianna saw her eyes flit down to Dad’s massive bicep. "Anything else for you tonight? Another Corona?" she asked hopefully.

"Not tonight," Dad said. "Driving."

The waitress smiled. "Okay then," she said, gathering up their plates. "Let me just get this out of your way, and I’ll be right back with your check."

"Thanks," Dad said.

Brianna looked over to the beach. It was getting dark, and she could see the last few dedicated beachgoers collecting their coolers, blankets, towels, and umbrellas, and heading away from the sea. She fought back a pang of sadness. Every other September she could remember, she’d looked forward to the start of school, the new classes, the new clothes—it had always felt exciting, like everything was starting fresh.

But now she didn’t feel like anything new or exciting was starting; she just felt like something was ending.

Excerpted from FOREVER CHANGES by Brendan Halpin.

Copyright © 2008 by Brendan Halpin.

Published in 2008 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

Table of Contents


so ...,
just not today,
easy for you to say,
a good person again,
not like the others,
this castle of marshmallow fluff,
it's gonna be fine,
it's all math,
you set the scene,
i was thinking about you,
to ponder the infinite,
part of the music,
really beautiful and horribly ugly,
a high-percentile family,
it's lonely,
to talk to somebody,
the joy of the tater tot,
leave it alone,
let's start this up,
a chance in hell,
no hassling me,
to be kind to our fellow creatures,
this perfect night,
she should have stayed,
your little study date,
that's not living,
a marvel,
better than this,
a pretty nice thing to do,
such a good life,
sudden silence,
about the author,

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Forever Changes 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
sweetiegherkin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
High school senior Brianna Pelletier seems to have it all: she¿s smart and popular. There¿s one problem though. One huge problem. She has cystic fibrosis and knows that she only has a limited amount of time left to live. Brianna goes into her senior year with an ever increasing fear of death on her mind and a frustration with the heavy emphasis on getting into college, thinking that it is pointless to apply to college with the knowledge that she might not live long to get even a high school diploma.However, what Brianna finds in school is a somewhat unorthodox math teacher who opens her mind up to ideas she never considered before and teaches her a number of life lessons along the way. His lesson on infinitesimals, numbers so small that they are seemingly meaningless but are in fact the basis for calculus, causes Brianna to start thinking that her life, however short it may end up being, is more significant than she realizes.The author does an excellent job of getting into the world of high school students (complete with modern-day pop culture reference) and of painting a touching portrait of the relationship between a single dad and his only daughter. The author also successfully explores a number of deep themes, such as the meaning of life and what happens after death, without being overly moralizing.The flowing dialogic writing and the relatively short length might suggest that this book is appropriate for tweens. However, the foul language peppered throughout along with the heavy life-and-death theme make it better suited for older teens. While math is a huge factor in this book as Brianna¿s brain automatically turns even the most everyday situations into a math problem, it is not necessary to be mathematically inclined to enjoy this book.
Euphoria13 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm wondering as to how I've never heard of or stumbled upon this book before! This book was GREAT. The writing was beautiful.As a person who isn't a fan of mathematics, this book certainly amazed me.Those complicated equations where the answer might be zero, but it isn't- an almost zero amount! Those answers can bring so much hope to a person. Briana has cystic fibrosis and chances are she won't live long. When she starts her senior year, she finds herself seeking some kind of hope and she finds it through the lessons from her calculus teacher. I love this quote from the book: "But here, Ms. Pelletier, is the thing. Without infinitesimals, the calculus as we know and love it simply wouldn't exist. It is these nearly-zero, sort-of-zero, sometimes-zero quantities that allow us to understand the world. Something which seems to be nearly nothing turns out to be crucial to everything. So though I, or for you that matter, or any of us, may be, as a collection of atoms, practically indistinguishable from zero, this does not necessarily mean we are insignificant. Indeed, it may be that we are actually crucially important." I would say that this is a must read. It's short but definitely meaningful.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
WishStealer More than 1 year ago
Great read! I love how this book wasn't cliche and the main character had Cystic Fibrosis instead of cancer, like usual books. I wish it was in first person, but third person is okay too. The ending is sad, but sweet.
Abbyriddle More than 1 year ago
At age nineteen, Brianna Pelletier is a senior in high school and lives a normal life just like every other teenager. With the exception of just one thing, she is living with Cystic Fibrosis. She is only nineteen, yet she contemplates death almost every day. This book is an absolutely fantastic read. It touches on deep and intense thoughts yet still achieves a level of maturity and lightness that makes it extremely enjoyable to read. The main character, Brianna, sees life in an unusual perspective that will touch anyone's heart. Although Brianna is a sweet person, she looks at almost everything in a "take me as I am" kind of way which makes the character easy to relate to. In this book there are many times when the emotional level runs high, making it impossible to put down. The explanation of Brianna's character in this book is superb, and one will find that when reading this book, they will become completely submersed in the intensity of every scene and interaction between the characters. This book is a wonderful and thorough book and it might even change the way one looks at life forever.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book!! It Seems a little slow moving, but the message that it has is just astounding!! It really makes you want to reevaluate how you live your own life. Saying that every single person in the world has an effect on..well, everyone else, is just so amazing! I love how that is a main theme! It's a feel good book, and a message that everyone should hear!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Brianna Pelletier was born with a death sentence. Her DNA gave her Cystic Fibrosis. The only unknown for Brianna is how long she will have.

It's Brianna's senior year and while her friends are planning for college, Brianna's plans are far simpler: live to see graduation. She never intended to go to college. She never believed she'd survive this long. But things are going pretty good. She's managed to avoid any serious infections and remain out of the hospital. She fears that if she needs to return to the hospital, she'll never leave. Well, she'd never leave alive.

So as senior year progress, she gains insight into what it means to really live, by an unlikely source - her ailing math teacher. Her alphabetically placed study buddy, Adam, hears a rumor that Mr. Eccles was in a band, Love, in the past. Downloading the music, Adam shares the bizarre album, Forever Changes, with Brianna. The music reaches a part of her that she could never put into words. After hearing the music, and then encountering Mr. Eccles one evening on a deserted beach, the two form an understanding with each other.

Through Brianna's dad's gentle love, the nerdy pressure from Adam, and the desire to live courtesy of Mr. Eccles, Brianna takes living to the next step - she attends an information session at MIT and takes the scariest step of her life, sending in her application. This action could bring hope or despair. On one level, she fears that by sending it in, she is hexing herself that she will never live to see her admission to MIT. But on another level, she doesn't want to die and wants some ray of hope, something to live for.

In Brianna, Mr. Halpin shares with readers both a wish to live and a desire to not die, which really are not one and the same. Brianna does her best with the hand she's been dealt. More than anything, she dreams of being like everyone else without a care in the world, but she has greater obstacles to overcome. She does so bravely and without blame. She's an inspiring character to curl up and share a few hours with.