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.
Knowing that this was the author's debut, I didn't really know what to expect from this book, but it sure couldn't have prepared me for what a beautiful book this turned out to be. Maybe part of me expected this to be something dark and difficult- as is with most books dealing with mental illnesses- or maybe I expected to find myself being unable to relate to and sympathize with any of the characters. Having been diagnosed with mild depression at one point in my teens, I tend to regard these kind of books with a wary eye. I need not have feared because Jasmine Warga more than did justice to this book- My Heart and Other Black Holes had very well written characters, a solid story line, an incredible voice, and wonderful writing, all of which contributed to turn this into one gem of a book.
If you are one of those people who avoids books about mental illnesses because you're not sure how you'd like them, or if you feel skeptical about picking this book up, knowing it deals with two of the darkest subjects- depression and suicide- I suggest you reconsider your decision. Yes, this book is painful and even morbid at times, but that is what makes the struggle more real. This is not just a book about depression or making the decision to end your own life- this book deals with life, simple as that. It was only while reading this that I found myself thinking more about sadness, and how each of us differs in the way we deal with it. This book teaches you, without being preachy about it, the way the minds of consistently sad, depressed people work, and you'll be surprised to find yourself relating to the characters, messed up as they are.
16 year old Aysel (the name rhymes with gazelle) has been suffering from depression ever since her father committed a terrible crime. She is so deep in the throes of depression that she sees suicide as the only way out- which is why she meets up with Roman, whom she met on a website dedicated to people who want to kill themselves. Aysel and Roman agree to be suicide partners and spend time together to make their plans. As their plans become more tangible and the big day draws near, Aysel begins to question her decision- but what about Roman?
Aysel was one of the most relatable YA characters I've ever come across, her pain is so real and she hurts so much, but then, there is another side to her that is so snarky and funny that you can't help smiling at times. Her character growth is superb, and I daresay you'd love her.
Roman is a very likable character too, he has gone through such a traumatic event in life and is so broken that you cannot help but feel his pain. Catching glimpses of who he was in the past and who he has turned out to be- so empty inside- made his struggle seem very, very real. There were a couple of other characters sprinkled through the story, and each of them had something important to contribute.
Prior to reading this book, I had no idea that a book about depression could be so full of hope. Don't get me wrong- in no way has the author romanticized or watered down any of the issues. They are all very real and very well-portrayed, and kudos to the author for not glamorizing anything about this topic and treating it with due seriousness.
Watching Aysel and Roman getting to know each other and opening up enough to share what they feel was a really good reminder about how the way we perceive life can sometimes- if not always- be wrong. We shouldn't let guilt, sadness and shame define us and should remember that at times, all it takes is one person to change how we see life.
Some minor issues I had with this book are that I felt Aysel's mom got off the hook too easily and Aysel herself saw light without too much struggle considering all that she went through at the beginning, but in no way did these make this book any less wonderful- if anything, that just went on to show that no matter what, you can never know a person well enough. I guarantee you that this book will make you think about life and will show you that life is worth living- and I beg you to pick this book up if you haven't already.
Jasmine Warga is definitely a force to be reckoned with- her beautiful, realistic writing made this a truly meaningful reading experience, and I can safely say I'll be reading any book she writes- heck, I even added her next book to my TBR list and it doesn't even have a title or synopsis yet.
The story idea: 5/5
The realization of the story: 5/5
The characters: 4.5/5
The cover: 5/5
Enjoy factor: 5/5