How to Become a Planet by Nicole Melleby


How to Become a Planet by Nicole Melleby. Algonquin, 2021. 9781643750361

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or starred review) 5

Format: Paperback ARC

 Genre: Realistic fiction

What did you like about the book? Pluto Timoney lives in a seaside NJ town with her mother. They are both obsessed with outer space. Usually Pluto loves spending the summer on the boardwalk with her friends, but this summer she struggles to even get out of bed. Pluto makes a plan and a deadline to get better, but discovers she can’t force healing. It will take therapy, a new tutor, a new friend, bravery, and time for Pluto to begin to heal from her major depressive episode. 

Pluto’s attempt to wish and work herself better is painful to read, but the experience rings true for me. I identified with Pluto, but as a mother I found myself also sympathizing with Pluto’s terrified mother who is willing to do anything to help her daughter. Overall, this is a compassionate portrayal of depression as a family illness. I highly recommend this gorgeous middle grade novel about teenage depression. As someone who struggled with depression and anxiety as a teen this resonated with me. 

Anything you did not like about the book? No

To whom would you recommend this book? Students who like reading emotional books. Readalikes include Finding Perfect by Elly Swartz, The Science of Breakable Things by Tae Keller, and The Sea in Winter by Christine Day.

Who should buy this book? All elementary and middle school libraries plus public libraries! It’s perfect for grades 4+.

Where would you shelve it? Realistic fiction

Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes! 

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Laura Gardner, Dartmouth Middle School, Dartmouth

Date of review: August 20, 2021

This entry was posted in *Book Review, *Starred Review, Depression, Mental Health, Mental illness, Middle grade novel, Nicole Melleby and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.