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How to Become a Planet



by
Nicole Melleby

Edition
Hardcover edition
Publisher
Workman Publishing
Imprint
Algonquin
ISBN
9781643750361
POTENTIALLY SENSITIVE AREAS
Language: Mild Language , Language: Infrequent Use , Sexual Content: Mild Sexual Content/Themes , Violence: Self-Harm Reference/Discussion
$20.22   $16.85
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After an entire summer trying to figure out how to go back to being the person she was before her depression and anxiety diagnosis, Pluto finds out – with the help of a hotline (the Hayden Planetarium Hotline, that is), a new tutor, and a new friend -- that there is no old or new Pluto, there’s just Pluto, growing up.

For Pluto, summer has always started with a trip to the planetarium. It’s the launch to her favorite season, which also includes visits to the boardwalk arcade, working in her mom’s pizzeria, and her best friend Meredith’s birthday party. But this summer, none of that feels possible.

A month before the end of the school year, Pluto’s frightened mom broke down Pluto’s bedroom door. What came next were doctor’s appointments, a diagnosis of depression, and a big black hole that still sits on Pluto’s chest, making it too hard to do anything.

Pluto can’t explain to her mom why she can’t do the things she used to love. And it isn’t until Pluto’s dad threatens to make her move with him to the city—where he believes his money, in particular, could help—that Pluto becomes desperate enough to do whatever it takes to be the old Pluto again.

She develops a plan and a checklist: If she takes her medication, if she goes to the planetarium with her mom for her birthday, if she successfully finishes her summer school work with her tutor, if she goes to Meredith’s birthday party . . . if she does all the things that “normal” Pluto would do, she can stay with her mom in Jersey. But it takes a new therapist, a new tutor, and a new (and cute) friend with a checklist and plan of her own for Pluto to learn that there is no old and new Pluto. There’s just her.

POTENTIALLY SENSITIVE AREAS
Language: Mild Language , Language: Infrequent Use , Sexual Content: Mild Sexual Content/Themes , Violence: Self-Harm Reference/Discussion

Details

Format

Print

Page Count

288

Trim Size

8 3/10" x 5 1/2"

Dewey

F

AR

0: points 0

Genre

Fiction

Scholastic Reading Counts

0

JLG Release

Sep 2021

Book Genres

Realistic Fiction

Topics

Mothers and daughters. Kindness. Conduct of life. Family life. Gay fathers. LGBTQ families. Gestational surrogacy. Friendship. Email.

 


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Praise & Reviews

School Library Journal

Gr 3-7–Pluto’s struggle with coming to terms with her anxiety and depression has caused her to miss 34 days of school. Her mom has agreed to tutor her from home so that she won’t have to repeat seventh grade. But all is for naught, because Pluto is not cooperating. She’s lost all her friends, doesn’t attend to her studies, and doesn’t take her daily meds, and her relationship with her mother is increasingly strained. Pluto doesn’t have any idea what is happening or how to stop it. All she knows is that she can’t spend her whole summer in bed, though she certainly has no plans to work at her mother’s pizzeria on the town’s boardwalk. Pluto forges an unexpected new friendship with Fallon, who wears boys’ clothes and styles her hair like her brothers, but is still working out what that means for her. The two make a wish list of things to accomplish before summer’s end. But Pluto is not prepared for the funny feelings in her stomach each time she finds herself in Fallon’s presence. This middle grade story touches on the experience of first love, the transition to high school, and the struggle to find one’s place in the world. Pluto is described as having blonde hair and gray eyes, while Fallon has blue eyes and curly brown hair. VERDICT A raw yet honest portrayal of a young person’s experience with depression, this is a must-read for both middle grade readers and the teachers, counselors, parents, and other adults who interact daily with youth undergoing similar experiences.–Sabrina Carnesi, Crittenden M.S., Newport News, VA

Horn Book

As the book opens, twelve-year-old Pluto, so named for her mother’s space obsession, asks the Hayden Planetarium question-and-answer hotline how to create a black hole, because she wants to “just stop. Just turn off the lights and shut her eyes and stop.” Her soon-diagnosed depression and anxiety are severe enough that she stays home for the remainder of the school year. But by summer, she makes a list of goals in order to “be the real, full Pluto.” Her process of finding where she fits, including navigating her parents’ separation, is affecting, as she recalibrates her own self- expectations (attending a birthday party, for instance, is too much for now) and as a new friendship with gender- questioning Fallon begins to turn romantic. As always, Melleby (In the Role of Brie Hutchens, rev. 3/20) naturally integrates her queer protagonist’s discovery of her sexuality into a larger story. The love of space that Pluto shares with her mother (whose own stress level is honestly portrayed) informs her way of thinking about herself and the world; Pluto’s interest in the history of the Challenger disaster is just one reason this introspective novel might appeal to fans of Erin Entrada Kelly’s We Dream of Space, rev. 3/20). SHOSHANA FLAX

Praise & Reviews

School Library Journal

Gr 3-7–Pluto’s struggle with coming to terms with her anxiety and depression has caused her to miss 34 days of school. Her mom has agreed to tutor her from home so that she won’t have to repeat seventh grade. But all is for naught, because Pluto is not cooperating. She’s lost all her friends, doesn’t attend to her studies, and doesn’t take her daily meds, and her relationship with her mother is increasingly strained. Pluto doesn’t have any idea what is happening or how to stop it. All she knows is that she can’t spend her whole summer in bed, though she certainly has no plans to work at her mother’s pizzeria on the town’s boardwalk. Pluto forges an unexpected new friendship with Fallon, who wears boys’ clothes and styles her hair like her brothers, but is still working out what that means for her. The two make a wish list of things to accomplish before summer’s end. But Pluto is not prepared for the funny feelings in her stomach each time she finds herself in Fallon’s presence. This middle grade story touches on the experience of first love, the transition to high school, and the struggle to find one’s place in the world. Pluto is described as having blonde hair and gray eyes, while Fallon has blue eyes and curly brown hair. VERDICT A raw yet honest portrayal of a young person’s experience with depression, this is a must-read for both middle grade readers and the teachers, counselors, parents, and other adults who interact daily with youth undergoing similar experiences.–Sabrina Carnesi, Crittenden M.S., Newport News, VA

Horn Book

As the book opens, twelve-year-old Pluto, so named for her mother’s space obsession, asks the Hayden Planetarium question-and-answer hotline how to create a black hole, because she wants to “just stop. Just turn off the lights and shut her eyes and stop.” Her soon-diagnosed depression and anxiety are severe enough that she stays home for the remainder of the school year. But by summer, she makes a list of goals in order to “be the real, full Pluto.” Her process of finding where she fits, including navigating her parents’ separation, is affecting, as she recalibrates her own self- expectations (attending a birthday party, for instance, is too much for now) and as a new friendship with gender- questioning Fallon begins to turn romantic. As always, Melleby (In the Role of Brie Hutchens, rev. 3/20) naturally integrates her queer protagonist’s discovery of her sexuality into a larger story. The love of space that Pluto shares with her mother (whose own stress level is honestly portrayed) informs her way of thinking about herself and the world; Pluto’s interest in the history of the Challenger disaster is just one reason this introspective novel might appeal to fans of Erin Entrada Kelly’s We Dream of Space, rev. 3/20). SHOSHANA FLAX

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