Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:
Synopsis for My Heart and Other Black Holes (from Goodreads):
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.
Author: Jasmine Warga
Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Contemporary, Mental Health
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: February 10, 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook
Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:
I stumbled upon this one on someone’s blog–I’m REALLY going to start writing down where I find these books!–and was really intrigued by the premise. I’m all for any book that talks about mental illness, especially one that focuses on youth mental health. I really enjoyed 13 Reasons Why but I liked that this book was told from someone currently experiencing suicidal thoughts.
From the review I read, I was looking forward to a humorous yet sincere novel about teen suicide. My biggest fear–as is with any book that takes on a subject like mental health–was that it would glorify suicide or lose itself in the humour of the narrator; but the previous reviews I had read gave me the impression that that wouldn’t be the case with this one so I was hopeful.
I love how relateable this book is to current teens! While Aysel and Roman may have traumatizing events that very few people (I hope) will ever have to go through, their everyday lives are very similar to teens today. Problems at school, conflicts with family members and simply just growing up–I feel like these characters are approachable for the reader. Plus, they act like actual teens do, not how adults think they do and I really loved that.
The plot follows Aysel as she contemplates suicide due to depression; which can make it a sad read at times. Aysel really isn’t in a good place in her life, and I admire how the writing captures that. It’s honest, real and easily elicits it’s emotions in its readers. I love how it challenges the stigma of mental health by never holding anything back and actually talking about it!
What I also adored was Aysel’s sense of humour. I loved her sometimes cynical and always witty rapport. The humour shines a light on the darker side of the book, giving the book a happier feel but still maintaining the sincerity of the situation at hand.
There really isn’t a whole lot of drama in this book and I think that really works to its advantage. It keeps the book grounded in the realism of the situation and doesn’t take away from the main focus of this book: talking about the mental health of teens.
Aysel and Roman are great characters and truly make this story! They are really what drives this book forward–Aysel especially! As I said before, she is hilarious, but she is also very real and I think readers will appreciate that.
I know this is the aspect that a lot of readers dislike and I can agree with them…to a certain extent. There isn’t a lot of romance in this story (ie it really isn’t a big focus; more a subplot).
**This may be a little spoiler-y but nothing is blatantly stated**
I would have been extremely satisfied if there was no romance between these two and they just had a platonic friendship. That may be because I’m all aboard the “let’s have more platonic friendships in YA between the sexes” train. BUT, I do feel like the romance takes away from the ultimate message of this book: talk to someone you love about what you are feeling. Does that person have to be someone you are having romantic feelings with? No. Is falling in love the ultimate cure for depression? NO! I personally don’t feel like this book is perpetuating that last message (I got the impression it was emphasizing the “talking to someone who understands you and will support you” message), but it is there and I know that it is a reason a lot of readers rate this book lower than they would have had it been a platonic friendship instead.
**end of spoiler-esque stuff**
My Rating: 4/5
I really enjoyed reading this book! It is done in a thoughtful way that I think readers will appreciate and connect with. And I love that it holds nothing back when it comes to teens and mental health. It is fighting a stigma that has been around for far too long and I hope it starts a lot of conversations about discussing your feelings and not being afraid to seek help when it is needed.
Read if You Like: witty humour, books discussing mental health
Avoid if You: want a romance contemporary