Book Review: My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

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: a teen boy with the username FrozenRobot (aka Roman) who’s haunted by a family tragedy, is looking for a partner.

Even though Aysel and Roman have nothing in common, they slowly start to fill in each other’s broken lives. But as their suicide pact becomes more concrete, Aysel begins to question whether she really wants to go through with it. Ultimately, she must choose between wanting to die or trying to convince Roman to live so they can discover the potential of their energy together. Except that Roman may not be so easy to convince.

My review:

“Anyone who has actually been that sad can tell you that there’s nothing beautiful or literary or mysterious about depression.”

I really appreciate this book. It’s not often that you come across a YA novel that depicts depression for what it really is: something ugly. It is not beautiful or mysterious or endearing. Aysel’s voice is so poignant and relatable. This book portrays depression in a way that is easy to grasp, even if you have never grappled with mental illness before.

Right away I was both intrigued and skeptical about the concept of “suicide partners”. Intrigued, because of course this is not something you read about everyday. I was skeptical because I feared that the illness would be romanticized. But have no fear, I feel like it was quite realistic up until around page 249 when the romance got in the way. Without giving away any spoilers, I have to say that I didn’t like how a certain character’s mindset seemed to change overnight. Literally, overnight. I’m sure this happens in real life, maybe… I don’t know, but it took away some of the raw power of the story. It was just too convenient. In real life, things don’t always get better. However, I suppose something has to be said for the possibility of something better, something more–hope. Perhaps even the slightest possibility of having a good day might be enough to get through another bad day.

Aside from that, I love how this story tugged on my heart from beginning to end. I had to pause every now and again just to shake some flashbacks out of my head and compose myself. I hope this book makes people feel something. I feel like that is a great accomplishment for any book.

★★★★★ (5 stars) because I’m still thinking about the characters a couple of days later.

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