THE CARE AND FEEDING OF A PET BLACK HOLE by MICHELLE CUEVAS
Reviewed by Miss D
STAR RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2
RECOMMENDED YEAR GROUP: 5/6
INTERESTS: pets, space, family
THEMES: grief/loss, emotions, responsibility, sense of self
IF YOU LIKED THIS, YOU’LL LOVE:
Michael Rosen’s Sad Book by Michael Rosen
The Truth Pixie by Matt Haig
The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q. Rauf
MY THOUGHTS: An emotional adventure through space and grief
This is the story of Stella trying to find out how to care for her pet black hole that followed her home from NASA one day. Naturally, it doesn’t always go to plan – a black hole swallows things, sometimes intentionally, sometimes not. Stella discovers that she can use the black hole to get rid of things she doesn’t like or those which are causing her too much pain. Eventually she realises things have gone too far and she sets off to fix things.
However, the ways Cuevas writes about the feelings of grief and of dealing with loss are eloquent and accurate. This was somewhat unexpected: I didn’t anticipate reflecting on such deep thoughts and feelings while reading this book. There is a unique blend of humour and depth, of darkness and light. We go from gnomes, bathtub spacecrafts and talking sweaters to exploration of questions like, ‘What is home?’ and, ‘What makes a person a person?’.
I have to admit, the third quarter did feel a little jarring at times, the sequences reminiscent of Alice’s adventures in Wonderland. The first half of the book absorbed me and I kept going to find out the fate of Stella & Co. but, really, I stayed for the nuggets of emotion and pearls of reflective wisdom. It’s rare for me to cry while reading but I did shed a few tears as I read the final chapters.
This is a book to be enjoyed by older children and adults alike. I can see it being a real comfort for people experiencing loss. It’s definitely a book I will reread, and one that I will recommend to certain pupils.
“A person can’t just be the good parts. For a person to be a person, you have to allow them to have an east and a west and a south too. Without the annoying parts, something vital, some true north, is lost.”
“I guess that’s how time works. A bad thing happens, and it splits your life in two, into a Before and an After. There’s really nothing you can do about it. Except it helps, I’ve realized, if you have people who share your same Before and After.”