3 Feb 2015

book review: my heart & other black holes by jasmine warga

Maybe I've just been reading the wrong books in the past but in the last year, I've read a few books that have mental illness as its core theme. Like I said in my review of Now That I've Found You, this is no bad thing. My Heart and Other Black Holes is a young adult fictional book about depression, guilt and suicide in two teenagers.

"I'm getting higher and higher and I feel the swing set creak.

'Be careful,' he says.

'Why?' I'm not thinking about being careful. I'm thinking about one last push, of letting go, of flying, and of falling.

'You aren't allowed to die without me,' he whispers.

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?"

Just to put things into perspective - I read this (300-page) book in four days. Now, in these four days, I wasn't at home for at least ten hours during the day so I only had a chance to read it in the evenings before bed or first thing in the morning during breakfast. This, to me, is the sign of a book that is written very well with a great plot.

Personally, I loved this book. I found myself empathising with the characters, especially Aysel as she's a bit of a science geek like myself. Jasmine Warga is a brilliant writer and I can't emphasise enough just how much I enjoyed this book. Although it didn't quite make me cry, it was close and to be honest, I can count on one hand the number of books that have caused my tear ducts to work overtime (read: it's pretty hard for a book to actually set me off).

To me, this book just emphasised that no matter how set someone is on suicide, there is a chance that they may change their mind and all they need is that reason to. And that's why I will echo what Warga wrote at the end of her book - that we must reach out to those we know who may be depressed as you never know, we may be the person who brings them back from the brink and enable them to see that light at the end of the tunnel. Social support is such an underestimated thing.

Overall, My Heart and Other Black Holes gets a solid 8.5/10 from me - tall praise considering I rarely rate books over 7/10! To put things into perspective, 6 out of the 29 books I read in 2014 received a rating of higher than 7/10. Basically, I definitely recommend this book.

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