My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
My Heart and Other Black Holes was a well-written book with an important message. I would not say that I enjoyed this book per se, but I am glad I read it - it was a delicate portrayal of the pain that is depression.
Our book starts with Aysel explaining that she is going to kill herself. She even goes online and finds herself a suicide partner to help her through. Enter Roman - a teenager around her age that seems to have it all: popularity, money, and a supportive family. But, underneath all that, Roman has depression stemming from a traumatic event in his past.
Aysel was an engaging protagonist because she was so different to others in the young adult genre. There is a big focus on the "strong female" protagonist in YA - which I love, most of the time. Those females who take their harrowing life experiences and become hardened warriors in one way or another... Aysel felt more real to me. Depression is an incredibly common condition in our world, and yet so few of our YA protagonists suffer from it.
I also loved that Aysel was a scientist, like myself. Again, it seems exceptionally common that YA ladies are artistic in some way, so it was great to see a scientist as a main character.
I loved the juxtaposition of Aysel and Roman. Aysel was a loner, outcast and nerd - she came from a broken home and felt like an imposition on her Mum and her new family. Roman was a popular kid, jock and all-around loved guy - his parents are invested in him getting better and their love is evident throughout the novel. I thought this was especially important considering the stigma surrounding depression. So many people think that depression is only "real" if it affects people with lives they perceive as "bad". Showing both Aysel and Roman's stories showed that anyone can be affected by this mental illness.
So, you're probably reading this review and thinking - "why didn't she give the book 5 stars, since everything she's written sounds so positive?" Well, I'd have to say, the ending ruined this book for me. Aysel acts as though loving Roman has cured her or something - how ridculous! Sure, having loved ones is helpful to people with depression, but it is definitely not a cure. I had hoped that this book would avoid Aysel and Roman falling in love altogether - the whole "insta-love" and "love conquers all" angle is a bit overdone.[Aysel acts as though loving Roman has cured her or something - how ridculous! Sure, having loved ones is helpful to people with depression, but it is definitely not a cure. I had hoped that this book would avoid Aysel and Roman falling in love altogether - the whole "insta-love" and "love conquers all" angle is a bit overdone. (hide spoiler)]
Overall though, I highly recommend this book. Be warned - there is not much happiness in this novel (though, it may be slightly triggering if you have depression yourself.)
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