Monday, 23 February 2015

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


My edition: Paperback, published on 12 February 2015 by Hodder & Stoughton, 302 pages.

Description: Aysel and Roman are practically strangers, but they've been drawn into an unthinkable partnership. In a month's time, they plan to commit suicide - together.

Aysel knows why she wants to die: being the daughter of a murderer doesn't equal normal, well-adjusted teenager. But she can't figure out why handsome, popular Roman wants to end it all....and why he's even more determined than she is.

With the deadline getting closer, something starts to grow between Aysel and Roman - a feeling she never thought she would experience. It seems there might be something to live for, after all - but is Aysel in so deep she can't turn back?

Rating:



Aysel wants to die. Her father did something terrible in a fit of rage and she's worried that the same darkness is hiding within her, so she wants to take her own life before she can follow into his footsteps. But she's afraid of doing it by herself, worried that she will chicken out at the last moment and only make matters worse. So she visits Smooth Passages, a website for like-minded people, in the hopes that someone will post a message looking for a suicide partner not too far from where she lives. And that's how she meets Roman.

When she first sees Roman, Aysel thinks that he is an all-star popular kid in high school, someone who has everything going for him. But when he shares why he wants to die, Aysel realises he is just as broken as she is. The two quickly connect, not only over their mutual wish to die but also because they share a similar feeling of confusion, anger and loneliness. They start to feel closer to a person their own age than they ever have before and doubts start to seep in; can they truly go ahead with the plans for themselves if it means the other person, someone they now care about, will die as well?

My Heart and Other Black Holes was equal measures terrifying and beautiful. Terrifying, because the age of the internet has made it so much easier for young, impressionable and confused teenagers to find like-minded people to push them over the edge and even help them take their own life. Yet the story was also beautiful because it showed that even in the darkest moments of depression an unexpected light can surface. A light which cannot make everything better like magic but can show a path out; giving hope that the suffocating feeling will if, perhaps, not disappear at least become bearable.

This is an incredibly well-written novel, which is must be to be able to tackle the subject matter, and with such aching realism and sensitivity at that. I instantly deeply cared for Aysel and Roman, which made the countdown until the day they would take their lives together even more poignant. I was completely gripped by the stories of their individual struggles and their unfathomable desire to die as a solution to their continuous pain. It was heart-breaking to read, but for someone who has never been in that position it also provided a meaningful insight into how difficult it can be to crawl out of the feeling of utter desperation.

My Heart and Other Black Holes paints a brutal picture of depression in young people and shows how, when going unnoticed and untreated, this mental illness can literally kill its victims. Yet, while the story was undoubtedly harrowing, and was filled with plenty of devastating moments that will grip the reader in its clutches, it was an at times surprisingly uplifting and beautiful one too – and definitely worth exploring.

You can purchase the novel from Waterstones, Amazon.co.uk or your own preferred retailer.



Would you like to know more about the author? You can connect with her online at:

Website: jasminewarga.com

Twitter: @jasminewarga


Many thanks to the publisher for a copy of the novel through bookbridgr in exchange for an honest review.

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