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My Heart and Other Black Holes
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 (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.
Aysel and Roman have a suicide pact. Tragedy in their lives have shaped who they are and they see no other way out other than to commit suicide. But as their friendship grows, they start to enjoy each others company and confide in each other.
Is this enough to change their lives around?
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This could be a good book. You can read it on a surface level, believing everything that is fed down your throat, and absolutely love it. You could be in tears at the end, your heart stretched like a elastic, and broken in a hundred sharp fragments. You could fall in love with the characters, feel an invisible umbilical cord stretching through the words and into the universe beyond. You could read it, and get that feeling where you close the last page of the book and just sit there vacantly, like: “What did this book just do to me”.
But all of this will only happen if you want it to. Make the decision to believe, and it will take you on a journey. Take it literally and it will be amazing until 60% of the way through. Then it will disappoint, leaving you deflated.
Let’s talk depression. The whole existence of this book is based on the fact that there is a website called “Suicide Partners”, for people who are looking to kill themselves, but don’t want to do it alone. Aysel (pronounced uh-zell, rhymes with ‘gazelle’) is looking to destroy her life after her father’s violent murdering of her small country town’s hero leaves her thrashing in the waves of his wake. Her classmates gossip about her when they think she isn’t looking. Her mother is cold and separated. She has no friends, and is always alone, always sad. No wonder she wants to kill herself.
In the book, her depression is referred to beautifully as a “black slug”. It sits in her stomach and feeds off her happiness, draining every last scrap of joy from her, until she is merely an empty vessel for her slug. Her sadness is described so well, that it spreads to the reader until you feel cold all over and hot inside. You really live inside her. You really are her slug.
The description is beautiful, the prose amazing and the idea great. But that’s about where it ends for me.
Sometimes, I just want to learn a spell to make books into humans. Because then, I can sit the book down and say to it: “Ok. I get it. You’re a YA novel. But please, not all YA novels absolutely need to have a romance.” This is one of those books. The author spends so much of the book setting the scene for a depressed girl, who repeats over and over again how irreversible the damage is, how much she wants to die, how she’s never be whole again, how the black slug will continue to eat her alive until she drops dead or kills herself. And then… enter her magnificent suicide partner, and she heals almost in the space of chapter or 2. It’s a typical case of the author going: “I need a romance and I need a solution. Let’s smush them both together and kill two birds with one stone”, and the book turning out to be a “Love Solves All” with no effort on behalf of the characters to get the solution themselves. However, I will say this. Only Aysel healed quickly. Roman still healed, but slower, and at a more reasonable pace.
Another problem: the ending. The author kind of ran out of breath. The loose ends where exactly that – loose, and the ending relied on a coincidence, the fact that she just happened to be driving past his house at the time. It ended too abruptly and unsatisfactorily.
So in a nutshell, the writing was beautiful all the way through, the concept was great and the book was amazing for the first 50 per cent. Ten the necessary romance came in, the book changed course immediately, and the ending was dropped on the reader as gently as a ton of rocks. Don’t worry though, it was still good, so I would definitely recommend it. Just don’t take it too seriously.
Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ 7/10
I can’t even begin to explain how much I loved reading My Heart and Other Black Holes. This had been a book I have wanted to read ever since it was published and I was so excited to get my hands on it. The idea of the book really captivated me and I desperately wanted to read it to find out what this book was going to be like. From the synopsis, this might just sound like another depressing book. But this book isn’t ‘just a depressing book’. Sure, it’s very sad in some parts and can be quite confronting, but this book shouldn’t be labelled as just another book that revolves around the theme of teen suicide. A lot of people attack books like this one and put labels on them, saying that these types of books romanticise depression, mental illnesses, and even suicide. I understand that some books can appear that way, but this book in no way glorifies depression or suicide. This book felt completely honest and raw. Yes, there was romance in this book. No, the problems that these teenagers had and faced were not romanticised.
There are aspects of this book that are confronting and very saddening, but if anything, that made me love reading this book more because it felt so real. Nothing in this book was sugar-coated and everything felt realistic and therefore it was very powerful. Because of the themes of this book, I wouldn’t recommend this book to younger readers and I’d be cautious handing this book to someone with severe depression, but I do think this book is very much worth reading. Yes it’s sad, but that’s not all that this book is. It’s comforting in a way, because it shows how someone who wants to end their life can find hope and love once again and realise that life is worth it. The book ends on a hopeful note as well, which is great to read.
One of the things I loved most about this book was how the author tackled issues such as suicide and depression really head on and didn’t glorify these things. There’s always a lot of talk about how some people think that ‘sick lit’ makes mental illnesses something to aspire to have and how having a mental illness or suicidal thoughts will make someone fall in love with you and ‘save you’. But really, although this book does have romance in it, it isn’t the defining factor which is required to overcome these problems. This book discusses the fact that while other people can help you, they can only help you to some extent, and no one can save you but yourself. In that way, this book contained some really positive messages about being strong and brave and finding the things in life that make you want to live.
Another thing I loved about this book was how beautifully written it was. This book was eloquent and poignant and every word seemed perfectly placed on the page. This wasn’t just a book, it was a stunning and moving piece of prose that I know will stay with me for a very long time. After getting this book just last week, I’ve already read it twice. This is the type of book that can be read over and over again and I know I’ll be picking it up whenever I want to read something touching or something to help me put my pain into perspective. I think this book is worth reading for people both with and without depression, keeping in mind that every person is different and can handle different things, but I felt as though this book gives such an honest insight into suicide and really helps people understand this topic which is either not touched on enough or is misconceived. This book will either give people empathy to those who are in a similar situation to the characters or give people hope and know that there are people feeling the same things as they are and that they aren’t alone and that there is hope.
This book also had an air of mystery about it, which was unexpected but enjoyable to read. For the majority of this book, we don’t know why the main character feels the way she does and why she wants to end her life. As the book progresses, we slowly learn more and more about what placed her in this position and it was shocking to find out what lead her to where she was now. This book was utterly enthralling and I could hardly put it down. The whole time I was desperate to find out what was going to happen and I couldn’t have been any more happy with how this book turned out. I was definitely not let down by this book and it surpassed my expectations.
I loved reading about all the characters in this book, especially Aysel and Roman. They are both deeply flawed and messy, but that’s what makes them so interesting and endearing. It was amazing to be able to get to know them. They’re both so complicated and that makes them all the more fascinating to read about. I also loved seeing Aysel’s character development throughout the book. I loved her snark and her sometimes cynically humorous outlook on life. I found myself both laughing and crying in this book. Aysel and Roman are two characters that will stay on my mind for a long time.
Overall, this is now one of my favourite books. I congratulate the author for writing so honestly about suicide and depression, because that must be a really tough thing to do. Depression isn’t beautiful, it’s ugly and messy and destructive and sometimes deadly, and I felt as though this book conveyed that extremely well. I definitely recommend this one!
“You’re like a grey sky. You’re beautiful, even though you don’t want to be.”
“I make a promise to myself: I will be stronger than my sadness.”
“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.”
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