My Heart and Other Black Holes is a novel etched out of powerful honesty about depression and suicide but weaved into witty, nerdy humor.
If there was a book for “Depression for Dummies (and How to Overcome It),” this is definitely the book for you.
Title: My Heart and Other Black Holes Author: Jasmine Warga Publisher: Balzer + Bray Publish Date: Feb 10, 2015 Goodreads: 4/5 Barnes and Nobles: 4.5/5
Sixteen-year-old physics nerd Aysel is obsessed with plotting her own death. With a mother who can barely look at her without wincing, classmates who whisper behind her back, and a father whose violent crime rocked her small town, Aysel is ready to turn her potential energy into nothingness.
There’s only one problem: she’s not sure she has the courage to do it alone. But once she discovers a website with a section called Suicide Partners, Aysel’s convinced she’s found her solution—Roman, a teenage boy who’s haunted by a family tragedy, is looking for a partner.
With very few characters to play around with, Jasmine Warga is able to focus on her two main characters: Aysel and Roman.
Aysel is a loveable and relatable character. Smart and humorous, she faces her depression with wit and much insight. Introverted, she does not participate in class or any social events and barely talks to any of her friends, if she had any. She doubts herself, her whole humanity – that if her father is capable of doing such a crime, would she be able to do it as well? After all, the fruit does not fall too far from the tree.
Roman is the archetypal hottie from high school: sporty and popular with a supportive family behind him. Common in most YA books, he is the cute boy every girl falls for. He’s guilt over the loss of a family member draws him to depression and decides that only justice can wash away that guilt. And by justice he means his death.
Style and Pacing:
The book uses a first person POV from Aysel’s. With this, Warga digs deep into the character’s psyche and shows how depression is like from a person who actually suffers it.
“Depression is like a heaviness that you can’t ever escape. It crushes down on you, making even the smallest things like tying your shoes or chewing on toast seem like a twenty-mile hike uphill.”
The first two chapters establish the premise of the story and set the readers’ expectations of how her characters think, act and react. The author brings us to the unfathomable depths of Aysel’s thoughts, plans and her feelings about herself and the people around her.
Warga utilizes her chapters well. For a plot that follows a daily progression of events, no chapter is boring yet it is incredibly realistic.
Depression is a sensitively heavy topic which Warga is able to discuss critically and insightfully. She tackles it with much sense and logic; in a way that uplifts, not only the characters but the readers as well. The plot moves forward and towards developing the character’s emotions to (or rather from) their depression while also developing a budding romance towards each other.
My Heart and Other Black Holes is a story already written in so many styles and variations. As a Young Adult Fiction book, it talks about impending issues in teens and young adults of this generation.
The book literally put me to tears.
Just having undergone depression myself, I knew I couldn’t have survived it alone. After I read the book, I felt so understood in a long time. Jasmine Warga expressed what I could not express. She laid out everything I felt in 300 pages.
The book exemplified that people need other people to survive, not only physically but emotionally and mentally as well. There are battles we cannot win on our own, especially if we’re battling against ourselves.
However, I would have liked it if Aysel did not decide to live only because of her love for Roman.
I think the book could have been more powerful if Aysel was able to resolve her own conflict first, then convince Roman altogether.
In hindsight, what happened in the book could be of reason. Maybe sometimes we don’t need to resolve our conflicts. Maybe we just need to put those problems aside and look for a different reason to live – to choose our battles and get back to them when we are ready, when we have mustered the amount of courage and strength needed to overcome them.
My Heartand Other Black Holes is a moving story no one should miss. With very engaging characters and a flowingly realistic plot, anyone who has felt depressed or is going through depression should seriously get a hold of this book.
Bonus Quotes I Loved:
“Sure, there are things in my life that make me feel alone, but nothing makes me feel more isolated and terrified than my own voice in my head.”
“I’m kind of amazed that FrozenRobot seems to think that I’ve ever had a sex life.”
“Watching you be so happy when you think about science. It makes me kind of… happy. And that’s confusing.”
“I don’t want to speak until I have the right words. The magic words. The words that will convince him to live.”
“I told Roman I loved him; I put that positive charge out into the universe. And now I’m just waiting to see if it sparks – if it puts us in motion.”
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CHEERS TO HAPPY READING!