Friday, April 7, 2017

My Heart and Other Black Holes By Jasmine Warga

Publication Date: February 10, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pages: 320
Series: Stand Alone
Genre: Contemporary
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—Roman, a teenage boy 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.

Review:  Just once, once I would like to read a book focusing on mental illness that treats the topic respectfully and accurately.  My Heart and Other Black Holes almost pulls it off.  Almost.  And then everything falls apart in the ending.

At the start, Aysel's depression is not romanticized or dramatized. She's sad, she's alone, and she decides to plan her death with a suicide partner.  Her pain is vivid and framed in metaphors to successfully illustrate the heaviness of her illness (major trigger warning, by the way).  Her voice is raw and honest, never over exaggerating in order for the story to The story has weight because there are no forceful sob stories pushed at you screaming, "look how tragic this is!"  It's sad because it is, and that's the beauty of it.  

Sometimes I wonder if my heart is like a black hole--it's so dense that there's no room for light, but that doesn't mean it can't still suck me in.

The real tragedy of the book?  None of that lasts.  My Heart and Other Black Holes warps from a touching, truthful story to a fallacious cliche.  The romance cheapens what could have been an incredibly poignant novel, stealing its gravity in a cure-all act of desperation to grant everyone their happy ending.  Life is not always a fairy tale story, not everything has to end in happily ever after.  

Aysel and Roman are quite a pair, both determined to end their lives yet not quite capable of doing it alone.  Their relationship is an odd one that is foolishly developed in the end.  The romance ruins it all, and even then it isn't much of a romance, and certainly not deserving of the levity given to it.  Aysel and Roman fell in love with each other's illnesses, and in no world is that ever going to be okay.  The second love is introduced into the plot, the non-romanticizing I previously appreciated completely disappears into the air.

I wonder if that's how darkness wins, by convincing us to trap it inside ourselves, instead of emptying it out. I don't want it to win.

The philosophy and physics described in the book are the only two things left intact by the end of the novel, which is an abrupt dive into freezing water.  My Heart and Other Black Holes transforms from a meaningful depiction of depression into a damaging and unrealistic distortion that steals all the meaning away.

It is always sadder when a book gives you hope and then ultimately delivers disappointment.  The first half of My Heart and Other Black Holes is worth reading, but I cannot say much for the last half.  


  1. Ahh your review says exactly what I feel! I also think the ending end to abruptly, and I hate the "love cures it all" trope present strongly in this book. I love the way it's done in Aysel, she's slowly finding the want to stay alive. It's because of Roman at the beginning, but she also began to see her life and family in a different light because of it and ended up wanted to stay alive. What bugs me is how swift the change in Roman is. It's just unbelieveable and ruins the whole thing!

    Tasya // The Literary Huntress

    1. Yay, I am so happy you agree! I was quite disappointed with the ending considering Aysel's authentic portrayal to start. I definitely agree that Roman's sudden 180 degree turn in opinion was too abrupt and just didn't sit right. Thanks for commenting, Tasya!

  2. I have this one sitting on my kindle and so disappointed to read this. I hate that it had such a promising start to fall so flat at the end. Great review!

    1. Aww, sorry to disappoint. It is honestly such a true and heartfelt book for the majority of it, it is just the end that is a letdown. Thanks for commenting, Grace!