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How to Become a Planet

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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 bedroo 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.


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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 bedroo 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.

30 review for How to Become a Planet

  1. 5 out of 5

    anna (½ of readsrainbow)

    rep: sapphic mc with depression and anxiety, nonbinary li, side sapphic couple, side character with ODC tw: panic attacks Review also on Reads Rainbow. ARC provided by the publisher. How to Become a Planet is not an easy book to read, in a way that it’s a book about a depressed teenager. It hurts to read, especially if it resonates with your own lived experiences. At the same time, because the writing is so good, it flows easily and makes you want to finish the whole thing in one sitting. A book of rep: sapphic mc with depression and anxiety, nonbinary li, side sapphic couple, side character with ODC tw: panic attacks Review also on Reads Rainbow. ARC provided by the publisher. How to Become a Planet is not an easy book to read, in a way that it’s a book about a depressed teenager. It hurts to read, especially if it resonates with your own lived experiences. At the same time, because the writing is so good, it flows easily and makes you want to finish the whole thing in one sitting. A book of contradictions. As always with Melleby’s books, there is more than one obstacle for the main character to deal with, but all of it ties together nicely. Pluto has depression, yes, but she also has panic attacks quite regularly; she has to make up a big portion of her school year she messed up because of her mental illnesses; she has parents who aren’t a couple anymore and both want the best for her, but just end up pulling her in different directions; she has friendships breaking apart… All of this just works to make the book more real and relatable. It never feels like piling more & more problems on Pluto’s shoulders for the sake of creating some kind of tragedy porn. On the contrary, for every little thing that’s broken (or in the process of breaking) in Pluto’s life, there’s either something good happening or someone introducing a solution for Pluto to try. She has an amazing support system, and that might be the most important & groundbreaking part of How to Become a Planet. Those were all choices on the author’s part, and they feel very deliberate. Even the title itself. Pluto, as her name demands, is obsessed with astronomy. There’s a whole plotline where she calls the Hayden Planetarium Astronomy Question and Answer Hotline numerous times, but each time she asks a super specific question. Sometimes they’re strictly astronomy related, but sometimes they’re more about Pluto and her life, as if the Hotline was her safe haven, a Life Line almost. How to Become a Planet is a very tender book. It’s shaped in a way to let LGBT youth know they will always have people fighting for them, there will always be hope & love. The book breaks your heart a little bit, but it also stitches it back together, just like Pluto stitches herself back together, with the help of all the people around her who care deeply about her happiness.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jude in the Stars

    I love this book. It made me cry a lot because I got Pluto and I got her mom and they both try so hard. I don’t know if the fact that I started reading on a day when every little thing was already making me cry was a good or a bad thing but maybe having an excuse to let those tears come was good, so I’ll go with that. How to Become a Planet tells the story of Pluto who, just before her thirteenth birthday, is diagnosed with depression and anxiety. She missed the last month or so of seventh grade I love this book. It made me cry a lot because I got Pluto and I got her mom and they both try so hard. I don’t know if the fact that I started reading on a day when every little thing was already making me cry was a good or a bad thing but maybe having an excuse to let those tears come was good, so I’ll go with that. How to Become a Planet tells the story of Pluto who, just before her thirteenth birthday, is diagnosed with depression and anxiety. She missed the last month or so of seventh grade and needs to work with a tutor to get into eighth grade at the end of the summer. Her mom is trying really hard to help but Pluto’s dad wants her to come live in New York with him. Pluto then makes a list of everything she needs to do before the end of the summer to go back to the Pluto she was before. Life gets in the way but in all that chaos, Pluto makes a new friend, one who didn’t know pre-diagnosis Pluto and who comes with a list of her own. I can’t detail everything going on in this book, like the fact that Pluto isn’t called Pluto for no reason, or that it came to my attention not because it deals with mental health but for its queer storyline (it’s written as delicately and profoundly as can be hoped for in a Middle Grade book). As a parent, reading about this sweet child fighting her way through depression was at times overwhelming and it made me think a lot about my own child, who, despite her own issues, is fundamentally a happy person. Which I know doesn’t mean everything is fine. I’m a fundamentally happy person but I also know exactly what Pluto is going through. I have to say, I never expected to find a twelve-year-old girl so relatable. At one point Pluto says, “I don’t know who I am anymore”. Ugh. I named my blog Not Me Anymore. This book would have helped young me a lot, maybe not at twelve or thirteen because I don’t think I was that aware that early but who knows. It’s gentle and heartbreaking and heartwarming and so many other things at the same time. I haven’t liked a children’s book so much in a very long time. While it made me cry more than I’m comfortable with, it also made my heart very full and warm. I received a copy from the publisher and I am voluntarily leaving a review.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

    I received an advance reader copy of this book to read in exchange for an honest review via netgalley and the publishers. How to become a Planet is a heartfelt, tender book about a young girl called Pluto who has been diagnosed with depression. Pluto's world has been turned upside down by this diagnosis and she has missed much of her year in school because of it as well as loose her friends and passion for hobbies and interests. Pluto feels there is something wrong with her and doesn't understand I received an advance reader copy of this book to read in exchange for an honest review via netgalley and the publishers. How to become a Planet is a heartfelt, tender book about a young girl called Pluto who has been diagnosed with depression. Pluto's world has been turned upside down by this diagnosis and she has missed much of her year in school because of it as well as loose her friends and passion for hobbies and interests. Pluto feels there is something wrong with her and doesn't understand what is happening to her. I really enjoyed this book and it most certainly tugged at my emotions as a parent and as a sufferer of depression. The author handled this subject with compassion, gentleness and tenderness in a delicate and understandable way for children and did an amazing job of it!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Hsinju

    It’s a space-themed MG book, so of course I loved it. 🚀🪐☄️ Pluto Timoney (12) loves astronomy because her mom loves it. But she misses the last month of her seventh grade after being diagnosed with depression and anxiety and Pluto wonders if she’ll ever be the same again. Or would she be like Pluto the planet becoming a non-planet? Remember the Challenger disaster in 1986? I wasn’t born then, but I still remember the first time I read about it and that one of the seven astronauts was a high school It’s a space-themed MG book, so of course I loved it. 🚀🪐☄️ Pluto Timoney (12) loves astronomy because her mom loves it. But she misses the last month of her seventh grade after being diagnosed with depression and anxiety and Pluto wonders if she’ll ever be the same again. Or would she be like Pluto the planet becoming a non-planet? Remember the Challenger disaster in 1986? I wasn’t born then, but I still remember the first time I read about it and that one of the seven astronauts was a high school teacher, Christa McAuliffe, who comes up a lot in this book, and it hurt to think of how everything was gone in a split second. I relate so much to the space stuff. Did you have glowing stars on your bedroom wall when you were a kid? I did. Were you obsessed with black holes in middle school? I was (I was also terrified of the idea that a black hole would come too close to Earth and we’d all disappear). Did you wonder why Pluto was a planet and suddenly it wasn’t anymore? Yes (it happened in 2006). And seeing Pluto thinking about everything through space analogies is so refreshing. She is struggling to understand her own feelings, her thoughts, why she sleeps all the time, and she finds herself parallel to space stuff. But the story isn’t really about Pluto and her space knowledge. It’s about Pluto understanding that it’s okay to not feel the same, it’s okay to not being able to do things like getting up or going to birthday parties or enjoying a trip to the planetarium. It is also about Pluto’s friends and family trying to understand her. Pluto has a list she wants to accomplish to avoid getting send to live with her dad. Fallon Zamprogna, who works at her family shop down the road of Timoney’s pizzeria, also has a list of her own. Them striking up a friendship is the sweetest thing ever. I love that both Pluto and Fallon are figuring things out in their own ways and that they don’t magically know who they are at twelve or thirteen. They are growing and learning and it’s okay, too. It’s so important for middle schoolers to know about depression and anxiety. The way How to Become a Planet was written makes it easy to understand, even though neither is a simple topic. We see Pluto’s spiraling thoughts, her overthinking, her wanting to stop and just sleep and get sucked into a black hole. The narrative is so real that it leaves my mind reeling sometimes. And it’s not just for young readers either. We see Pluto’s mom trying, too. Everyone in this book has such a beautiful soul. They’re real people who mess up sometimes, do impulsive things, but they are trying. They try to understand, to learn, to love. There are queer kids and queer adults, too, and I absolutely love that they’re just there. By the time I reached the end of the book, I feel so proud of Pluto. I love that she is taking one step at a time, navigating family relationships, friendships, etc. Depression and anxiety don’t just go away. There are good days and bad days and Pluto knows that it’s okay, too. How to Become a Planet is heavy, sad, and full of joy all at the same time, and whether you want an MG book about mental health, or a somewhat space-related story, this is a must-read. content warnings: depression, anxiety, panic attacks, medication, blood, OCD (contamination) I received a digital review copy from Algonquin Young Readers via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sarah {The Clever Reader}

    Hurricane Season is one of my favorites so when I saw Nicole Melleby was releasing another Middle Grade centered around mental health awareness I knew I'd definitely be picking it up! Summer has always been Pluto's favorite. She spends her time between the boardwalk arcade, her moms pizzeria, and hanging out with her friend Meredith but this year it's different. This year she's struggled to get out of bed. Pluto's character is well developed and so real. I could feel her pain while reading this b Hurricane Season is one of my favorites so when I saw Nicole Melleby was releasing another Middle Grade centered around mental health awareness I knew I'd definitely be picking it up! Summer has always been Pluto's favorite. She spends her time between the boardwalk arcade, her moms pizzeria, and hanging out with her friend Meredith but this year it's different. This year she's struggled to get out of bed. Pluto's character is well developed and so real. I could feel her pain while reading this book. The depression keeps her in bed but the anxiety keeps her from experiencing all the things she used to love. The checklist she creates is supposed to help her face those fears but all it does is cause her to be more anxious. It's like it gives her something to focus on but not always in a good way. Throughout this book you'll see how Pluto learns to manage her depression, makes a new friend, and works to redefine her relationship with her mom and dad. Pluto's journey is one of self-discovery and finding your identity. It is well written, emotional, and beautiful all in one. Nicole is definitely one of my favorite middle grade authors and I will continue to read and support her books. I think they are important, especially for the young people struggling with mental illness themselves or understanding mental illness in someone else.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Amy Imogene Reads

    5 stars Poignant, important, and all about discovering your own space--your space within yourself, your space amongst other people, and your space in the world. (Puns, yes, but serious meanings? Also yes.) Characters: ★★★★★ Emotional resonance: ★★★★★ Handling of topics: ★★★★★ Pluto is going through a difficult time. Recently diagnosed with depression and anxiety, it's not exactly what she had planned for the end of her seventh grade experience. 13-year-olds don't have to deal with this, do they? And 5 stars Poignant, important, and all about discovering your own space--your space within yourself, your space amongst other people, and your space in the world. (Puns, yes, but serious meanings? Also yes.) Characters: ★★★★★ Emotional resonance: ★★★★★ Handling of topics: ★★★★★ Pluto is going through a difficult time. Recently diagnosed with depression and anxiety, it's not exactly what she had planned for the end of her seventh grade experience. 13-year-olds don't have to deal with this, do they? And if they do, why can't Pluto seem to handle it better? (Those are Pluto's harsh questions for herself.) Not only is Pluto navigating her own struggle and trying to figure out how to get through it--her dad, located in New York City, thinks he knows what's best and wants Pluto to come to the city in order to get better. Pluto doesn't want to leave her mom, and she doesn't want to go to the city. So it's time to make a list of what she needs to do in order to be "Pluto" again. If she can find herself and act like she used to, then she can stay...right? Pluto is about to discover just what it means to be herself. And how, at the end of the day, she can chart her own path through the stars. My thoughts: Wow, is this book filled with heart. I cried, I ached, I laughed, I smiled. Pluto's journey through love, self acceptance, and personal growth was something special to witness. One of the poignant elements to me was Pluto's support system. Unlike other novels I've read, where the main character(s) might occasionally be unmoored without a robust group of loved ones around them, How to Become a Planet showcased a loving group of folks around Pluto wishing her the best, trying to help her, and helping her each step of the way in the best way they could. I found that added to the story immensely and left me with a feeling of warmth and safeness. I can only imagine how this would resonate with younger readers going through similar circumstances. This is an important novel for young LGBT+ teens, and especially those at the younger end. I look forward to having this in my arsenal for book recommendations for children and parents alike. Blog | Instagram

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sonali Dabade

    TW: Depression, anxiety, panic attacks. When I look up at the night sky, I can see the stars, the moon, and the inky darkness. If I keep looking, the knowledge washes over me that the universe is so vast, so huge, that we are mere specks. And I watch on in awe, my jaw dropped open. The cosmos is more than humanity can control, but we think we know it all. We think we can include and expel planets from the groups of heavenly objects we seem to move in. We think they care. Pluto, the planet, doesn' TW: Depression, anxiety, panic attacks. When I look up at the night sky, I can see the stars, the moon, and the inky darkness. If I keep looking, the knowledge washes over me that the universe is so vast, so huge, that we are mere specks. And I watch on in awe, my jaw dropped open. The cosmos is more than humanity can control, but we think we know it all. We think we can include and expel planets from the groups of heavenly objects we seem to move in. We think they care. Pluto, the planet, doesn't care if it's part of the solar system or not. Just don't mess with it. Pluto, the human, on the other hand, whose mother named her after the planet, is a 12-year-old, about to be 13, and is battling depression and anxiety. Having just been diagnosed, she doesn't know how to deal with the emotions. The bad days make her want to become a black hole and the good days make her doubt herself. And when her father wants her to live with him because he thinks he will be able to provide better medical care for her, she desperately makes a list. A list that, if completed, will allow her to live with her Mom. Oh, and maybe make a new friend in the process. I finished this book in about 8 hours, with breaks, because it was so engaging. Understanding depression and anxiety isn't easy and this book lays bare the roughest parts of it in a gentle, loving manner that makes your chest ache. You might think that since this is a middle grade book, the story might be softened to match the kids. But despite it being gentle, it is straight-faced and honest. But it comes with its own issues: it's repetitive in places, the mother's handling of the situation isn't clear - sometimes it makes you assume, and there's a point where Pluto's tutor betrays her to her Mom, which isn't okay on so many levels. Reminded me of Felix Ever After and how Felix was deadnamed before the whole school. 'How to Become a Planet' is still a good read that has queer rep while treating it as the normal thing it is and how it should be treated as in real life.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Tory

    Really honest and so realistic. The first MG account of depression I've read that focuses on the kid's depression, rather than an older relative/friend, and doesn't sugarcoat it. And some very gentle, sweet queer exploration! Really honest and so realistic. The first MG account of depression I've read that focuses on the kid's depression, rather than an older relative/friend, and doesn't sugarcoat it. And some very gentle, sweet queer exploration!

  9. 5 out of 5

    M. Reads Books and Fics

    This book deals with a lot of heavy topics, but it does them very well. I was engaged the whole time I was reading, remembering my days of this age and how tough it can be. Pluto used to love going outside and space. This is something she shares with her mom. Since she was diagnosed with anxiety and depression, she finds it hard to just live her daily life and wishes people would understand how she is feeling. She makes a new friend who does not know about her before her diagnosis, and Pluto want This book deals with a lot of heavy topics, but it does them very well. I was engaged the whole time I was reading, remembering my days of this age and how tough it can be. Pluto used to love going outside and space. This is something she shares with her mom. Since she was diagnosed with anxiety and depression, she finds it hard to just live her daily life and wishes people would understand how she is feeling. She makes a new friend who does not know about her before her diagnosis, and Pluto wants to hold onto this for as long as she can. This is a must read book for all young readers and parents. This a tough topic we need to talk more about it, and it is handled so well. Truly, this is a book all age readers can enjoy. But it can hit just right for those dealing with mental health diagnoses so they know they are not alone. Pick up a copy of this book today and share it with someone you love!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Laura Gardner

    Perfect portrayal of depression. 🎉 Happy book birthday, @nicolemelleby !! 🎉 Thx to @algonquinyr for the ARC . . . 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. ❤️ . . . Pluto Timoney loves 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 Perfect portrayal of depression. 🎉 Happy book birthday, @nicolemelleby !! 🎉 Thx to @algonquinyr for the ARC . . . 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. ❤️ . . . Pluto Timoney loves 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 felt her chest grow tight, her jaw clenched, and she threw the newspaper across the room, pages scattering to the floor. She didn’t want to try. She was tired of trying...” . . . 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. . . . This novel will is a must read must buy for elementary and middle school libraries! Grades 4+. . . . #endthestigma #depression #depressionawareness #howtobecomeaplanet #nicolemelleby #mglit #newbook #bookreview #bookstagram #bookbirthday #bookstagram #bookstagrammer #booklover #bookrecommendations

  11. 4 out of 5

    Annette

    You know what got me interested in this book? That the main character was named Pluto. Mainly because her mother and I have something in common: Pluto used to be my favorite planet. Until it was not longer a planet of course. You know what got me buying this book? Because I'm currently in a stage in life where I think I can confront my own experience with depression without breaking down completely. This middle grade sounded like a great start. At the end of the book I was still a mess though. Te You know what got me interested in this book? That the main character was named Pluto. Mainly because her mother and I have something in common: Pluto used to be my favorite planet. Until it was not longer a planet of course. You know what got me buying this book? Because I'm currently in a stage in life where I think I can confront my own experience with depression without breaking down completely. This middle grade sounded like a great start. At the end of the book I was still a mess though. Tears were rolling down my cheeks and it was a case of very ugly crying. However, it was the good kind of crying. The crying and smiling at the same time. The crying because although the story touched my soul, it also hugged a part of me I didn't realize still needed hugging. The crying because for once depression is not treated as something that should be fixed, but just as something making Pluto Pluto. It's not an easy journey. Throughout the story we see Pluto struggling. Struggling with wanting to be the girl she used to be and struggling with simply not finding the power within herself to do the things she has to do to become that person again. Actually Pluto's summer is one big fight. And although she's also fighting with her surroundings, she's sadly enough mostly fighting with herself, with her own expectations and guilt. How the author, through the experiences of Pluto, describes depression sounded so incredibly accurate. I remember how I sat in the middle of my room, with boxes and stuff all around me because I was going to clean up, because a clean room is a clear head. And I just had to call my mom. I couldn't do it. I couldn't see it. I wondered why I was even trying and I wondered why I was even hoping that something stupid like this would help. I know how Pluto felt throughout the book. I've been there. But that also makes her journey so beautiful to read. I think in a way this is both a comforting book for kids dealing with issues like Pluto, although it can also be quite confronting so careful with that, but it's also a book explaining others what it feels like, what it is like, why you can't be the great friend you would want to be deep inside. And combining this hard to discuss topic with Astronomy, and Pluto in particular, was absolutely brilliant.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Susan Ballard

    Pluto Timoney hasn’t been to school in over a month, she stopped hanging out with her best friend Meredith, and her mom took her bedroom door off. Thirteen-year-old Pluto loves outer space, so does her mom, hence the name Pluto. Pluto used to love summertime, walking on the boardwalk with her friends and hanging out at her mom’s pizza place, but that was before - her diagnosis. Pluto was diagnosed with depression and anxiety, and now it hurts just to get out of bed some days; she’s so tired. She Pluto Timoney hasn’t been to school in over a month, she stopped hanging out with her best friend Meredith, and her mom took her bedroom door off. Thirteen-year-old Pluto loves outer space, so does her mom, hence the name Pluto. Pluto used to love summertime, walking on the boardwalk with her friends and hanging out at her mom’s pizza place, but that was before - her diagnosis. Pluto was diagnosed with depression and anxiety, and now it hurts just to get out of bed some days; she’s so tired. She wants to be back to her old self and be able to go back to school in the fall and be “normal.” When Pluto meets Fallon, a kid from the funnel cake shop down the boardwalk, she loves that Fallon doesn’t know the Pluto before the diagnosis. As Fallon and Pluto develop a special bond, Pluto tries to find ways to accept this new version of herself. Talking about depression in young people is never fun, but it needs to be openly discussed. Melleby paints such an honest, realistic picture of a young teen who struggles with depression and anxiety: the loss of friendship, the search for identity, being caught between parents, and the desire to do everyday things that seem too overwhelming. With a clever space theme, this book is a must-read for kids and parents! And as May is Mental Health Awareness Month, now is the perfect time to grab a copy. Thank you to @algonquinyr and @nicolemelleby for an invitation to this tour and a #gifted copy.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Nev

    4.5 - How to Become a Planet is a really beautiful Middle Grade novel that deals with mental health and being queer. After being diagnosed with depression and anxiety and missing the last month of 7th grade, Pluto is trying to prove to herself and her mom that she can go back to school in the fall and not have to move in with her dad. I thought that the way that Pluto’s feelings were described painted a really vivid picture of what her depression and anxiety were like for her. This is a pretty h 4.5 - How to Become a Planet is a really beautiful Middle Grade novel that deals with mental health and being queer. After being diagnosed with depression and anxiety and missing the last month of 7th grade, Pluto is trying to prove to herself and her mom that she can go back to school in the fall and not have to move in with her dad. I thought that the way that Pluto’s feelings were described painted a really vivid picture of what her depression and anxiety were like for her. This is a pretty heavy book, but I think it was balanced nicely with the plotline of Pluto making a new friend and the beginning of their romance. This book really tugged at my heartstrings. It seems like a great book for younger readers to either see their experiences with mental health reflected back to them or to understand what their peers might be going through.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Reading_ Tam_ Ishly

    DNFed. The writing is fine. The characters are okay. I just couldn't feel the connection. DNFed. The writing is fine. The characters are okay. I just couldn't feel the connection.

  15. 5 out of 5

    charlotte,

    Rep: sapphic mc with depression & anxiety, nonbinary li, sapphic side characters, side character with OCD CWs: panic attacks

  16. 5 out of 5

    A.J.

    I was fortunate to read an ARC of this beautiful story. Melleby writes mental illness with such a sensitive, nuanced approach. Pluto's struggle to reconcile her depression and anxiety diagnoses with an increasingly fraught relationship with her mom and a developing crush on a new nonbinary friend over the course of one pivotal summer holiday is both relatable and engaging. Keep an eye out for this book next year. Highly recommended. I was fortunate to read an ARC of this beautiful story. Melleby writes mental illness with such a sensitive, nuanced approach. Pluto's struggle to reconcile her depression and anxiety diagnoses with an increasingly fraught relationship with her mom and a developing crush on a new nonbinary friend over the course of one pivotal summer holiday is both relatable and engaging. Keep an eye out for this book next year. Highly recommended.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Cassidy

    Read: May 2021 I was lucky enough to win an ARC of this middle-grade novel and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's been a while since I've read a middle-grade other than Rick Riordan, so this was a treat! I don't know if I was just in a mood today or what, but this almost made me cry. I wasn't depressed in middle school, but I have dealt with it at different points since then and reading about Pluto going through depression AND all the regular anxieties surrounding being a pre-teen made my heart hurt. Th Read: May 2021 I was lucky enough to win an ARC of this middle-grade novel and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's been a while since I've read a middle-grade other than Rick Riordan, so this was a treat! I don't know if I was just in a mood today or what, but this almost made me cry. I wasn't depressed in middle school, but I have dealt with it at different points since then and reading about Pluto going through depression AND all the regular anxieties surrounding being a pre-teen made my heart hurt. The amount of support Pluto had was so, so important. Despite pushing people away and not knowing how to fix it, her mom and friends were still there for her. I also love that she found several adults to relate to. The emphasis on astronomy made me happy! All the random facts that helped Pluto cope, the Hayden Planetarium (which I will visit someday!!) hotline, meteor showers 🌠, everything. Space has been one of my passions for years so finding characters with the same zeal is wonderful. FALLON. Can I just say the way these two explore their identities and new feelings is so wholesome?? I didn't know this book would have LGBTQIAP+ rep and it was such a nice surprise. I'm so here for Pluto and Fallon evolving from friendship into something more. CW: suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety, being outed

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    book is genuinely inspiring, fam; as a parent, I always fear my children’s health and especially with this pandemic. I spoke to my kids' pediatrician last week for my kids' annual check-up, where she emphasizes the importance of always talking to the kids and making sure that they can freely express how they feel as the pandemic have can affect their mental health. This book tells the journey of Pluto, who got diagnosed with depression, a very serious matter that can affect anyone. I admire Plu book is genuinely inspiring, fam; as a parent, I always fear my children’s health and especially with this pandemic. I spoke to my kids' pediatrician last week for my kids' annual check-up, where she emphasizes the importance of always talking to the kids and making sure that they can freely express how they feel as the pandemic have can affect their mental health. This book tells the journey of Pluto, who got diagnosed with depression, a very serious matter that can affect anyone. I admire Pluto for being courageous in facing this journey; it's undoubtedly heartbreaking and overwhelming to read about a young girl struggling to find her way back to her old self and get free of this matter. The author did a fantastic job telling this story in a gentle, sensitive, and honest way. It is always beneficial for parents like me to educate ourselves by reading books that tackle real issues, and this one, without a doubt, I recommend. This book touches my heart and inspires me to be better.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Meredith Ann

    At first, I was on the fence about this book, I couldn't seem to find a way into it. Then, out of nowhere, as the story went on, it captivated me. Pluto's story is the most realistic depiction of living with depression and anxiety as a young teen that I've ever read; I saw my past in her story. I hope this book makes its way into the hands of the kids who need to read a story like Pluto's. At first, I was on the fence about this book, I couldn't seem to find a way into it. Then, out of nowhere, as the story went on, it captivated me. Pluto's story is the most realistic depiction of living with depression and anxiety as a young teen that I've ever read; I saw my past in her story. I hope this book makes its way into the hands of the kids who need to read a story like Pluto's.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Cass Moskowitz

    An absolutely incredible depiction of depression and anxiety in young people, a wonderful real story that had me deep in my feels. Wish I had this when I was a kid.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Violet

    This middle-grade novel uses space-themed metaphors to showcase all the ways depression threatens our livelihood--all the places depression tries to hide and all the ways we try to cope before we've even begun to heal. Pluto has the summer to prove to herself she can do the things that will make her feel "normal" again. Her checklist to recovery, complicated by family/friend dynamics and her inability to find happiness in the things she once loved, makes progress difficult. The audiobook narrator This middle-grade novel uses space-themed metaphors to showcase all the ways depression threatens our livelihood--all the places depression tries to hide and all the ways we try to cope before we've even begun to heal. Pluto has the summer to prove to herself she can do the things that will make her feel "normal" again. Her checklist to recovery, complicated by family/friend dynamics and her inability to find happiness in the things she once loved, makes progress difficult. The audiobook narrator on Libro FM was fantastic. I felt Pluto's anger, her sadness, and her confusion trying to cope with depression--my preteen self squirming in the depths of memory, clenching and unclenching my fists while rooting for her recovery. How to Become a Planet didn't end how I thought it might end, and that's a good thing because Melleby doesn't offer a neat wrap-up for the nuances of mental illness, making the characters real and relatable. Sometimes, the best lessons come by unlearning all the things we do to feel accepted within a society full of binaries. It's also a helpful/insightful read for parents dealing with lgbtqia+ children dealing with mental illnesses.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mandy

    I'm already crying now. I'm already crying now.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    I received an advance copy from the publisher via Netgalley for review purposes. This in no way influences my review; all words; thoughts, and opinions are my own. Content notes:(view spoiler)[ 🪐 depression 🪐 panic attack 🪐 casual ableism 🪐 self harm 🪐 suicidal ideation (passive) (hide spoiler)] You’re going to want tissues on hand when reading How to Become a Planet, but in the end the crying feels cathartic. It’s the summer after seventh grade, and Pluto is struggling to reconcile who she was before a I received an advance copy from the publisher via Netgalley for review purposes. This in no way influences my review; all words; thoughts, and opinions are my own. Content notes:(view spoiler)[ 🪐 depression 🪐 panic attack 🪐 casual ableism 🪐 self harm 🪐 suicidal ideation (passive) (hide spoiler)] You’re going to want tissues on hand when reading How to Become a Planet, but in the end the crying feels cathartic. It’s the summer after seventh grade, and Pluto is struggling to reconcile who she was before and now she’s been diagnosed with depression and anxiety. She missed the last 34 days of school and feels like her friendship with Meredith has fizzled out because they haven’t been texting, and her dad thinks she’d be better if she moved to his place because he has more money and resources to help her with her depression. But she doesn’t want to leave her mom, her shares her love of space and instilled that love in Pluto, so she decides she needs to make a list of goals that, if she completes all of them, she’ll be back to Old Pluto and able to stay with her mom. I found this book to be extremely relatable and the way the depression was handled was painful yet wonderful. Pluto is at an age (almost thirteen) where it’s hard to explain her emotions, but she knows she’s tired and her body is heavy and sometimes she just wishes to create black hole everything can stop. Which scares her mom, and her mom’s fear sometimes causes her to make Pluto feel worse because she feels like she’s failing at being who she used to be. A bright spot for Plu is a new friend, Fallon, who didn’t know Pluto before her diagnosis and so doesn’t make comparisons to who or how she used to be. Seeing Pluto’s list gives Fallon the courage to create her own and get Pluto’s help to complete the items on it. Sharing their lists helps their friendship grow and as they grow closer, Plu gets butterflies when she thinks of Fallon, and seeing her tutor Mrs McAuliffe with her wife Sunny makes Plu think of a future like that with Fallon. This book was an absolutely emotional ride, in the best way. This is a book I’m so glad exists because sometimes it feels like society acts like preteens can’t be depressed until they’re a teenager, and this book gives a name to those feelings and shows healthy coping methods - including therapy and medication. In many ways this book is validating of feelings and experiences for me, and I’m so glad it exists. Nicole Melleby is definitely a must-read author for me now, and I look forward to more stories from her. that hit hard but with so much care.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Vicki Antipodean Bookclub

    There are rules to being a full planet 🪐Be in orbit around the sun 🪐Have enough mass to pull itself into an almost perfect sphere 🪐Have cleared its orbit of other celestial objects Pluto lost its full planetary status in 2006 for failing to meet all three criteria. Like her planet, Pluto Timoney feels as if she is failing. A month after her Mum had to break down her bedroom door and after she was diagnosed with anxiety and depression, thirteen year old Pluto is trying hard to pull herself back into There are rules to being a full planet 🪐Be in orbit around the sun 🪐Have enough mass to pull itself into an almost perfect sphere 🪐Have cleared its orbit of other celestial objects Pluto lost its full planetary status in 2006 for failing to meet all three criteria. Like her planet, Pluto Timoney feels as if she is failing. A month after her Mum had to break down her bedroom door and after she was diagnosed with anxiety and depression, thirteen year old Pluto is trying hard to pull herself back into a perfect “old” Pluto shape. She makes a list of things that she needs to do to be herself again, but sometimes she is overwhelmed with sadness and wishes she was a black hole so she wouldn’t have to feel anything ever again. Some of the people she loves don’t know how to be around her any more, if they ever did (looking at you Dad). It’s with the help of a new tutor, a therapist and a cute new friend that Pluto comes to accept herself, depression and all Set in New Jersey, this middle-grade novel provides a clear-eyed, but tender examination of adolescent mental health. There were days into weeks when Pluto couldn’t get out of bed, when washing her hair seemed a Herculean task and taking her medications utterly impossible. The author managed to simultaneously portray Pluto’s sense of isolation whilst showing her Mum in utter despair at being unable to help. This was a moving story that explains the impact of depression both on the young person living with it and the people around them. Although it might sound heavy going, it is eminently readable and would be a great way to open up conversations around mental health. There is also LGBTQIA+ representation with Pluto’s friend, maybe/ hopefully 🤞 girlfriend, exploring her gender identity Thank you so much to the publisher for allowing me to be part of the blog tour for How to Become a Planet

  25. 5 out of 5

    Cindy • leavemetomybooks•

    Things I Loved: * The very existence of an engaging middle grade book with a realistic depiction of depression and anxiety. * This book could be highly relatable to kids who may be struggling to discover or adjust to a diagnosis and/or to find empathy for friends or relative with mental illness. * Pluto's relationship with her mom felt very real to me. I have a 12 year old daughter and the ups and downs and pulling towards and pushing away from each other was very well depicted in this book. * Que Things I Loved: * The very existence of an engaging middle grade book with a realistic depiction of depression and anxiety. * This book could be highly relatable to kids who may be struggling to discover or adjust to a diagnosis and/or to find empathy for friends or relative with mental illness. * Pluto's relationship with her mom felt very real to me. I have a 12 year old daughter and the ups and downs and pulling towards and pushing away from each other was very well depicted in this book. * Queer representation. Things I Did Not Love: * The tutor situation - like maybe she should have kept her mouth shut and not blabbed Pluto's business to her mom before Pluto had even brought it up or discussed it with anyone? AAAGH. Meddler. * The dad was such a tool. I wish Pluto's mom had stood up to him more so Pluto didn't feel like she had to. * The space stuff got a little repetitive, but whatever - it was a theme and it worked overall. Final Thoughts: * This was an enjoyable, engaging read, with relatable, interesting characters. * Recommended for 5th grade and up (Age 11+). * This was my first book by Nicole Melleby, and I'd love to read her other work! 3.5 rounded up to 4 Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the review copy.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Samantha (WLABB)

    The end of seventh grade was not a great success for Pluto, but she had a plan to return to her "normal" self. If she could just check the items off her list, she would be fixed. But could Pluto return to the way she was before? Though this story was set during the summer down the shore, it was not a light and easy beach read. This was a realistic story of a young person's struggle with accepting and adjusting to a recent mental health diagnosis. After slowly being pulled in by the "black hole", The end of seventh grade was not a great success for Pluto, but she had a plan to return to her "normal" self. If she could just check the items off her list, she would be fixed. But could Pluto return to the way she was before? Though this story was set during the summer down the shore, it was not a light and easy beach read. This was a realistic story of a young person's struggle with accepting and adjusting to a recent mental health diagnosis. After slowly being pulled in by the "black hole", Pluto was found to have depression and anxiety. Not only was the label difficult for Pluto to accept, it was difficult for all those who loved her. As someone who has dealt with both anxiety and depression for my entire life, I found Melleby's depiction to ring true for me. The anhedonia, the lethargy, the thought patterns, as well as the need to be "fixed" were things I found very relatable. Pluto's slow acceptance of her illness and her path towards learning to manage her mental health issues came across as very realistic as well. She was dealing with depression, anxiety, arguing parents, a distant best friend, and a pile of make up work. That's a lot! But Pluto did have a support system in her tutor, her therapist, her mother, and a new friend, Fallon. Fallon was one of the brightest spots in this story. When Pluto was with Fallon, she could take a breath, because Fallon didn't know the Pluto from "before". Their friendship was based on who she was now with no other expectations. A very sweet friendship grew between them, as they tried to help each other with their respective lists. While Pluto's list was about getting back to the Pluto-from-before, Fallon's was about exploring their gender identity. Super honest and emotional. Melleby did a wonderful job depicting the struggled with depression and anxiety, and how you don't "fix" it. It was a journey for Pluto, her family, and her friends, and though she was just at the beginning of it, I was left with hope for them all. *ARC provided in exchange for an honest review. BLOG | INSTAGRAM |TWITTER | BLOGLOVIN | FRIEND ME ON GOODREADS

  27. 4 out of 5

    Cassie

    How to Become a Planet is the book I wish I had in middle school. It's not an easy book to read, in a way that deals with heavy, tough topics (depression, anxiety, coming out, OCD, isolation). It often hurts to read, while it simultaneously warms your heart and gives you hope. It really resonated with with me and my own lived experiences when I was young. Things that are more understood and talked about now, but still so alienating and scary when you're in them. The writing is so lovely and atmos How to Become a Planet is the book I wish I had in middle school. It's not an easy book to read, in a way that deals with heavy, tough topics (depression, anxiety, coming out, OCD, isolation). It often hurts to read, while it simultaneously warms your heart and gives you hope. It really resonated with with me and my own lived experiences when I was young. Things that are more understood and talked about now, but still so alienating and scary when you're in them. The writing is so lovely and atmospheric, it flows easily and makes you want to not put it down. There's queer rep, mental health awareness and normalization, gender exploration, a great setting, and the teensiest bit of romance! Space themed and loaded with personal growth, I loved this book! Thanks to Algonquin for the advanced copy!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Toby Murphy

    A very touching book. It’s both sad at times but also hopeful. I think many kids should read this and also adults that work with kids. The characters were all pretty developed. I felt like there could’ve been more addressed in terms of Pluto’s life before her diagnosis. Overall, a great book.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Trinity Miller

    I devoured this book in one day. It was so perfect.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Astrohazelnut1119

    Wow! A very touching story about depression and acceptance. I would highly recommend this!!

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