[note note_color=”#dbeef9″ text_color=”#000000″]The Care and Feeding of A Black Hole by Michelle Cuevas • September 12, 2017 • Dial Books (Penguin)
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When eleven-year-old Stella Rodriguez shows up at NASA to request that her recording be included in Carl Sagan’s Golden Record, something unexpected happens: A black hole follows her home, and sets out to live in her house as a pet. The black hole swallows everything he touches, which is challenging to say the least—but also turns out to be a convenient way to get rid of those items that Stella doesn’t want around. Soon the ugly sweaters her aunt has made for her all disappear within the black hole, as does the smelly class hamster she’s taking care of, and most important, all the reminders of her dead father that are just too painful to have around.
It’s not until Stella, her younger brother, Cosmo, the family puppy, and even the bathroom tub all get swallowed up by the black hole that Stella comes to realize she has been letting her own grief consume her. And that’s not the only thing she realizes as she attempts to get back home. This is an astonishingly original and funny adventure with a great big heart.[/note]
[note note_color=”#BFD1D1″ text_color=”#ffffff”]I received this book for free from Penguin for review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.[/note]
First sentence: “This story began on an afternoon the color of comets, with a girl dressed all in black. “
“Have you heard about the new book about anti-gravity?”
“What about it?”
“It’s impossible to put down.”
The Care and Feeding of A Black Hole isn’t about anti-gravity, but it is a book that you won’t be able to put down.
This touching Middle Grade book is about eleven-year-old Space nerd Stella Rodriguez who has lost her father, and finds a Black Hole following her all the way from NASA, adopts it, and finds herself in a bit of trouble when the Black Hole swallows everything he touches like Stinky Stu the hamster, old photographs of her father, the Dog With No Name, and other items. Those items, however, happen to be very precious to Stella and sets out on a recovery mission to find all that she’s lost. Along the way, her brother Cosmo gets sucked into the Black Hole, and the two learn to confront their grief and talk about their loss.
The Black Hole is not only a mass that exists in space, where nothing can escape its pull, but it’s a metaphor for the loss of her father and how she can’t get her father back no matter what. Stella doesn’t want to confront her loss and her grief; she runs away by throwing all the things that remind her of her father into the Black Hole and various other things that annoy her, but that develops problems that can’t be solved by ignoring. It’s normal in the grieving process, but oh boy, it was such an accurate feeling and depiction. There is a hole in Stella’s life and heart, and I felt her grief.
This book does a beautiful job balancing the silliest of the moments Stella finds herself in with her Black Hole with the seriousness of the loss and grief that she experiences. It’s not easy thing to do, and I applaud Michelle Cuevas because I surely chuckled and cried.
The Care and Feeding of A Black Hole is a touching Middle Grade for young kids. It teaches them that it’s okay to fear what they don’t want to confront, especially when it involves death, and also that it’s even better to talk about what and who you’ve lost.