The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole, Michelle Cuevas

9780399539138So what happened was that a long time ago, I used to read lots of different books. I’d read young adult books and biographies and lots of fiction stories and a bit of crime and some horror and all kinds of things, and then I got a job writing about crime books, which meant I had to spend most of my time reading crime books. And I can’t really complain, because it’s not like it’s a bad thing to get paid to read (ten-year-old Fiona would flip out if she knew this would be her future), but when you read only one kind of thing after a while, it can be a bit much. Especially when you read crime and people are always doing terrible things and everybody dies, and even though justice is (usually) served it’s still a real bummer. Books can be a bit of a bummer but also really good (obviously), but let’s face it, crime is always going to be pretty good at bringing the mood down. So I’ve decided to go back to reading kids books again when I can, because then I can mix up the genres—a bit of crime, a bit of fantasy, a bit of graphic novel, and hopefully a lot of funny.

This book is funny. I did a bunch of grinning and a bit of laugh-snorting. But I cried a lot too. I finished it in one night and I can count four tissues next to me, but I’m not sure if I dropped any on the floor that I can’t see. Stella is an eleven-year-old girl who loves science and space and tolerates her little brother and absolutely does not like talking about her father, because he died. My dad died too, not very long ago, and it made me very sad because he did things like squeeze my hand after he hugged me, and he had a pretty hilarious laugh when you tickled him on the feet. And some days I try not to think about him because it seems like Too Much to do it. Stella doesn’t let her little brother Cosmo talk about their dad. But he does come in useful after Stella accidentally gains a pet black hole after a visit to NASA. Stella does her best to care for the black hole, but of course, all he wants to do is consume everything around him. (He’s especially partial to left shoes.) At first it’s annoying, then scary, and then she realises that maybe he can get rid of some things that she doesn’t want any more. But will she want them back?

This is a great adventure, with flashing lights and sirens and scientific knowledge and a bit of dimensional travel and a whole lot of fun and some really beautiful, genuine feeling. I tried to read a terribly important, prize-winning, well-loved book about a father that had died when my dad did, and I hated it. I wish I’d read this instead. But at least I got to read it now.

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