My Heart & Other Black Holes - Jasmine Warga

Genre: YA
Synopsis: 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.


Review: My first impression of this book was that the title sounded a little bit emo, but once I read the book I found that the line which expands on the title to be one of the best quotes in the entire novel; when Aysel feels doubt caused by emotional attachment she says, "I wonder if my heart is like a black hole - it's so dense there's no room for light, but that doesn't mean it can't still suck me in." Honestly, this whole book is written with such capability and sensitivity - the author wrote it after the death of a friend, and as such the novel is saturated with the authenticity of life experience.

Warga portrays both depression and suicidal tendencies with great skill - some common misconceptions about both (such as the idea that people with depression can't laugh and have fun at times, and the idea that people too afraid to commit suicide are not *really* suicidal) are featured and handled brilliantly in this novel. Both main characters are likeable and the contrast between Aysel's growing doubt about suicide and Roman's continued drive to do it, despite the happier moments, fantastically illustrate both the complexities of these issues, and how all consuming they can be. I'm not talking too much about the plot, as I don't want to give anything away (avoid the Goodreads synopsis like the plague, it tells you about 60% of the story), but it's a great read, by the end of which you will be wholly invested in the characters.

I really liked the contrast between how the mother of each teen responded to their apparent distance, anti-social attitudes, or general indifference - one mother who backs away, apparently uncaring, and another who smothers. One of the biggest attributes of depression is the stigma around talking about it, which leads to people not knowing how to cope with it in others around them, something which is not deeply explored (as it's from the perspective of two sufferers) but definitely touched on here. It's not all sadness and despair, though, this story is at times darkly funny, and sure, at times deeply upsetting, but there are also uplifting moments of light, even if Aysel thinks there is no room in her heart for it. Definitely highly recommended, particularly if you want to better understand depression and suicide.

Rating: 5/5

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