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I felt like it was a really good and well-written story but lacked that depth of character I was looking for. Being a book about suicide and depression of course gives it more meaning but it just didn’t give me that satisfaction of a truly deep and personal story that I had found in “Letters to the Lost”. It felt like this story was missing the something that would really bring this story out. This was a good book and if you enjoyed this one I recommend you read “Letters to the Lost”.
I was a bit worried I would find this book too depressing, given the tender subject matter of two teenagers who engage in a suicide pact. Once I started reading, I could not put it down though. I was even reading it while cooking the dinner at times. This is the story of Aysel who is terrified the blackness inside of her is the same as the blackness that caused her dad to commit a violent and unforgivable act. The entire town looks at her differently now and she can't help wondering if she is cut from the same cloth. Drenched in sadness and hopelessness, she begins to trawl suicide sites in order to find a partner to end it all with. She finds Roman. On the surface, they couldn't be more different. Aysel has always been a misfit and an outsider, whilst Roman is a popular and good-looking basketball player. Roman, however, is haunted by devastating guilt. He blames himself for his little sister's death and can see no way out but suicide. This book is told from Aysel's POV and I absolutely loved her. She was sort of tough and gritty around the edges, either silent or sarcastic. I loved how delicately the author weaved her life into Roman's. They got to know each other so slowly and carefully, none of it rushed. I was holding my breath at times, willing Aysel to embrace the joy she couldn't help feeling when in Roman's presence. I was scared of the ending, as I had invested myself in these two characters so much! But it didn't let me down one bit. Beautiful in every way. Highly recommended!
Without giving too much away, the story follows 16 year old Aysel who loves physics. It also follows popular 16 year old talented Roman who has the “perfect” life. Aysel and Roman meet online and become partner, but not as you would expect. Aysel and Roman have a special date set for April 7th. Aysel and Roman both want to die. Aysel and Roman are suicide partners.
After meeting online on a website called Suicide Partners, Aysel and Roman arrange to meet in order to arrange the details for April 7th.
MY THOUGHTS I have been really enjoying reading books about mental health this year. After reading If I Was Your Girl, Under Rose Tainted Skies, Mockingbird and El Deafo in January for a read-a-thon, I knew I had to pick some more up as soon as I got the chance, and as soon as I started reading I was hocked. It is a real page turner for contemporary, YA, lit lovers, and anyone who wants to know more about mental health.
I thought the whole idea of this bought a new look at how people both deal with and perceive mental illness. It was obviously from the moment they had their first meet that they were extremely different people, and thought of death in completely different ways to one another, even though the ultimate outcome would be the same.
There was so much more to the story than just suicide which is what I really enjoyed. It drew a honest, insightful and concise picture of 2 teens living with depression. I liked that we took a look into both teens lives and got to know how and why they felt the need to end their lives so young. Aysel feels scared and alone after her father committed an unthinkable act, whilst Roman is struggling to get over a family tragedy that he blames himself for. I honestly believe that more people than we think can relate to these characters throughout the book.
Personally I really liked how the author ended the book. Contrary to a lot of reviews I have read, it did not disappoint. However the part where Aysel seems to reconsider her plans so early on in the book (this is not a spoiler as the synopsis states that “Aysel begins to question whether she really wants to go through with it”) was a slight disappointment as it just seemed to laugh a little at those with the mental illness, and how quickly someone can change their mind so easily with no help after so long of feeling suicidal. It was for this reason that I actually preferred the character that Warga created in Roman, as his story just seemed a lot more genuine.
I would encourage more people to pick it up and read My Heart and Other Black Holes. It taught me a lot about how people with suicidal thoughts and mental illnesses think (more so with Roman) and why they believe they “deserve to die”. Obviously all cases are different, but we need to start understanding it a little more so that the everyday person is more capable of seeing the signs and therefore would be able to offer help, support or take control.
MY FAVORITE QUOTE “Maybe we all have darkness inside of us and some of us are better at dealing with it than others.”
This book is something else. That’s all I can say for certain. I’m worried this review is going to come off the wrong way, but bear with me.
It was a slow start, but I’m almost certain it’s supposed to be that way. It lacked urgency, which of course mirrored Aysel’s depression in a very poignant way. The descriptions of depression were powerful and heartbreaking, and I think this book could help break down some barriers.
But it’s a tough read. It’s very heavy (not literally) and difficult to read too much in one go. It also made me feel isolated and sad in a way I haven’t felt in a long time. For this reason, it was a struggle to pick up because I didn’t want to feel too strongly what Aysel was feeling.
The characters were believable and realistic, and I could see them both clearly in my head. Aysel’s sarcastic comments were often pretty dark but they made me laugh – sometimes inappropriately. The book is filled with a layer of black humour. However, it’s also filled with a lot of beautiful thoughts.
There’s not much else to say. I’m not sure how much I enjoyed it. I’m not sure what star rating to give it. This book made me feel things in a way no other book has. But I’m not sure if that’s a good thing.
My Heart and Other Black Holes is so heavy it makes you feel like drowning, but it is well worth keeping yourself afloat till the end.
This book covers the topic of suicide and a suicide pact – if you feel that these topics may trigger you this is not the book for you. If you need urgent help and are in the UK you should call 999. Alternatively, you can contact the Samaritans on 116 123 or call Childline for free on 0800 111.
Aysel, a sixteen-year-old who has decided that she wants to die. She finds Roman (Frozen Robot) in an online chatroom for people seeking a suicide partner as she is unsure if she can do this on her own and he has a very overprotective mother. Both Asyel and Roman have suffered unimaginable tragedy, a father who has killed and a sister under her brother’s care dies from a seizure in the bath means both don’t want to continue.
As a result of their friendship and the fact that Asyel has someone to talk to about how she feels, she begins to notice her mood changing, and her depression lifting allowing her to see that she doesn’t want to die. However, Roman has a differing opinion and she spends her time trying to convince him to live.
Even though Roman had made up his mind and regardless of him being able to open up to Aysel the main positive message from this book is to talk about how you feel, don’t hide it because when you are deep in depression you find it hard to see the reality. A very realistic message that can be understood by people who have been touched by depression, and that people who haven’t been there should know.
I think this is a very important topic to explore for all ages. Suicide is not something routinely talked about in general society, but hiding your feelings and any thoughts about suicide are dangerous. There is still so much stigma surrounding suicide that getting help should not be viewed poorly.
I was a little taken aback by some of the language and the concept of suicide pacts and partners in themselves. The advert that is posted by Roman states he doesn’t want a “flake” someone who will back out of the pact and this is referenced several times during the book. My issue here is that there could be some legal ramifications as there have now been cases where people have been prosecuted for encouraging another person to commit suicide. I couldn’t help but wonder for a more impressionable person that by telling them I don’t want a flake could add additional pressure if that person changes their mind. (For me as a person with borderline personality disorder and find self-identity tricky I generally go along with the thoughts and opinions of others around me).
Whilst I think this story could happen in reality and that the book covers an important topic, but be aware that some of the language may make you feel conflicted.
This book is honestly so gripping and really speaks to the hearts of a lot of people who may be reading it. I personally suffer with mental health issues due to my own circumstances in life but this book really helped me. A lot of people say books about this sort of topic may encourage people to do things when they may not be in the right frame of mind (take 13 reasons why by Jay Asher for an example which I actually finished right before starting this book. Overall what I am trying to say is that this book is an excellent escape, if you need to relate to something and sort of give your self a wake up call as to there is always another way, do read this book. A great escape from the real world, that brings you back to reality.
This book is beautifully written. I had tears in my eyes more than once as I read through.
The thing I love most about this book is it’s positivity. I know, that’s a weird statement for a book about two severely depressed teens who make a suicide pact. But, it’s about letting people in and allowing them to help you to heal. It’s about the beauty that life gives us, as opposed to the devastation that death affords.
I’m not a teen, but I could relate to the feelings of despair and overwhelming sadness. The metaphor of the black slug living inside Aysel that eats everything inside her; all feelings, light, everything, is fantastic.
I very much enjoyed the science related parts of this novel. At best though, these are diamonds in the rough. Tiny gems of writing that add a little depth and a philosophical tint to an otherwise very beige novel.
Not that I’m trivialising the subject matter, but there was just too little character development to truly believe that the main protagonist had real justification to find herself in such a dark place.
Similarly, the surrounding cast were pencil outlines - lacking in shade. There was no real weight to them to really matter to the reader. Some very unbelievable conversations took place which made immersion into the story difficult.
Basically, I wanted more from it because it had great potential. It is marketed as a YA novel and perhaps this more accurately highlights how old I’m getting. Maybe I just don’t get it. Then again, maybe there’s just not that much to get?
"Anyone who has actually been that sad can tell you that there's nothing beautiful or literary or mysterious about depression".
Warga captures that so perfectly. I fully expected to find this book uncomfortable. It's a book about suicide, so it was never going to be a happy read. But I didn't expect Jasmine Warga to display the brutal, ugly truth of how people suffering through depression, social anxiety and grief feel. She doesn't pretend to understand the way everyone feels, she doesn't sugarcoat anything or make it seem like a small issue. In fact, Warga delicately captures some insight into the confusing, sad and destructive moments of two lives as they commit to making a decision to end everything.
Whilst each reason might not make sense to everyone, to Aysel and Roman these reasons are everything. They are enough to need to escape. Aysel has been planning her own death for a while. Probably since the fatal moment her father caused the death of one of her schools best known athletes. Aysel feels like she's constantly weighed down by his shadow; that somehow she will become just like her father - unpredictable and violent. Roman has been planning the same. Since the death of his sister, a sister under his watch during that time, he can't escape the guilt. But he can escape this existence.
Both complete strangers but with similar sadness inside them, they join an online Suicide Partners scheme. It's essentially a website to connect you with someone else who wants to die, but is afraid they won't be able to follow through, they might get caught, or they need someone to go through it with. The sad truth is just that. A sad truth. Things like this happen all the time, and often get brushed under the carpet.
I loved the way Warga captured some of the inner turmoil of each character, and sometimes in such a small, subtle way that these snapshots were all the more powerful. It just goes to show how important the tiny signs, which seem so insignificant, can be telling us so much about a person and how they truly feel. Things like pulling down your sleeves to cover your hands when you're anxious, picking at food because your mind is somewhere else, the urge to tell silly jokes in social situations; these are all things close to home for a lot of people, and this cleverly woven element to the story really affected me.
Whilst these elements force you to feel that heaviness of being depressed, Aysel and Roman, despite being desperately sad, hide their sadness well. In fact, they are not depressing characters to read about at all - Aysel is in fact really funny most of the time. It's just that her depression is a part of her as well. And I really like that this author has been quite frank about this, that awareness of depression not being "just a feeling" but rather being something tangible you can't escape is really quite powerful.
The romance element of this story is kept quite small. The characters are more interested in moving towards their end goal. I did however struggle with the ending. Sometimes endings can be super obvious when lots of hints are dropped, and Warga does tend to spoon feed the reader a little with large clues (which even the characters notice and comment on, they're that obvious) and this spoils the story ahead a little. The ending was therefore entirely obvious towards the end, which was a shame.
Otherwise though, a really fantastic book with some clever ideas and an interesting approach to a difficult subject. I hope more people read this, if only to open their eyes to what might be happening to those around them, it certainly did for me.
Just got done reading this book. I really loved Aysel from the first chapter, she was funny and I really connected with her. Roman really got on my nerves though, I could understand why he was the way he was because of what happened and how he is feeling but I just found it annoying that he was constantly mean to Aysel, but I warmed up to him at the very end because there was a reason for him being the way he was throughout the book. I really understood Aysel and why she wanted to die, also with Roman this is a very hard hitting book nothing is held back. Loved every second of it, apart from Roman being mean sometimes they got on really, really well. I also loved Roman's mom she was funny to read!!