The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole by Michelle Cuevas
My rating ✰5✰
Picture and quote from Goodreads
A girl’s friendship with a lonely black hole leads her to face her own sadness.
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 a middle grade book about grief. It was so touching and emotional I was in tears many times throughout my reading of it. Stella misses her dead father so much and doesn’t want to talk about him or think about him. I can definitely relate to that feeling in regards to my late husband. She has a black hole that she starts feeding all of the things that spark her memory of her father. They are just too painful to keep with her any more.
But not having those things that meant so much to her father and mean so much to her start changing her life. For example if she didn’t have the memory of her bug collection she crafted with her father, she wouldn’t have her nickname, Bug.
She tackles different pieces of her grief with the help of her brother, a giant stinky hamster, a dog with no name, and black hole full of memories she couldn’t bear to face, until she does and she sees how she wants her life to proceed and how her father would have wanted her life to proceed.
At one point she, near the end of the story, she is talking to her father in her memory.
“I miss you,” I said. “I miss just talking to you.”
“You can talk to me anytime,” you said, “About anything.”
“But not really,” I replied.
“Why not?” you asked.
“Because,” I said. “You’re gone.”
“Am I?” you asked. “Well, maybe tangibly, but how do you think I’m here right now? In this black hole of yours? It’s not the physical me, no; it’s the me that lives in there.”
You pointed to my heard, which felt, I admit, as if it would collapse or burst at that moment.
“It’s like the stars in the constellations that we made,” you said. “Even if one star dies far, far away, its light is still visible, and the constellation it helped to make remains. A thing can be gone and still be your guide.” He took my hand. “You know what I would say in any situation, what advice I would give, how much I’ll always believe in you. That belongs to you. That love. And no one can touch it, or alter it, or take it away. I will live in you your whole life. Who knows, maybe longer.”
This book hit me in so many ways in so many emotions. I think it’s a great book about grief that is honest about thoughts and feelings without being too heavy handed with the life lessons or any more frightening than it needs to be This is a book I will be adding to our collection for when Pepper is a little bigger.