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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Massive Black Hole is a contemporary fiction novel written by Andrea Barbosa. It's the story of three very different women whose lives are forever changed by their time together in New York City. Agatha came from a broken home in Texas and was taken in by an aunt whose sons physically and sexually abused their younger cousin. Cibele was raised in Rio de Janeiro and had kind and supportive parents who reluctantly agreed to her idea of becoming an au pair in New York before starting college. Amy was the elder daughter of the family who took in the young, devout Cibele as their au pair and companion for their younger daughter, Lilly. Amy was gifted in math and science and loved astrophysics; she was also a non-believer and feminist, and she came to enjoy the conversations she and the devout Cibele had about hell and black holes.
Andrea Barbosa's contemporary fiction novel, Massive Black Hole, is sometimes reminiscent of Jean-Paul Sartre's existentialist play, No Exit. This is a dark and unsettling novel filled with contradictions and the ever-present abyss. Cibele is obsessed with hell and damnation and somehow begins to associate that condition with black holes, being sucked into an infinity of nothingness. Her conversations with Amy seem to make no inroads for either the believer or the rationalist and don't seem to go anywhere, even if they do both enjoy them. Agatha is a completely different character whose past has left her superficial and conniving, and convinced that her whole worth is her beauty. The character of Amy, however, was most troubling for me, and she just didn't ring true, especially her views on abortion, a woman's right to choose and pregnancy as penance for misbehavior. While that view is held by many, Amy's self-righteous and condescending attitude seemed in total contradiction to everything she was all about. Massive Black Hole gives the reader lots to think about but it missed the mark for me.