DISCLAIMER: This review contains spoilers.
One emerging trend in media is the glorification and romanticization of mental health disorders. As a result of the same, a lot of Young Adult (YA) novels have integrated various mental health issues into their plots while still bearing inaccurate representations as young adults look at these serious issues through rose-tinted glasses. Ofter, it ends on a high note thus masking the dark reality of these problems and wrongly depicting the healing process.
My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga is a transitional piece of literature to me. I find that it balances the scale- it depicts certain aspects of mental health issues that are appealing to young adults through the form of romance while also portraying very dark aspects of depression in a fairly blunt manner.
This book follows the bittersweet tale of two teenagers with traumatic childhoods. Aysel is a sixteen-year-old girl who was raised by her father- however, her father murdered a local boy and she carries that stigma everywhere. She pushes her friends and family away to the point where they barely interact with her anymore. Roman, a sixteen-year-old boy blames himself for his sister’s death and bears the weight of that guilt on his shoulders. Both of them want to end their lives and they become Suicide Buddies through a website. Roman wishes to die by drowning on the anniversary of his sister’s death. They both decide to die together.
Naturally, they begin to fall for each other. Warga artfully depicts the contrast between the thought processes of the two teenagers. For Aysel, all she really needed was to be close to someone again, so meeting Roman helped her heal. Roman, on the other hand, was plagued by guilt and was in his own head which meant that the chances of love changing his thoughts and feelings were far less likely. She showcases this beautifully as we can see Aysel’s determination to take her own life reduce and Roman’s determination to do the same be unwavering. Roman’s final suicide attempt without Aysel shows that he loved her enough to want a good life for her but not enough to live his life. The book ends on an ambiguous note and the readers are left wondering about the uncertain future of Aysel and Roman.
Jasmine Warga displays a clean and slightly poetic writing style throughout the book. The language and narration remain consistent throughout the book. There is clear character development for the main characters and adequate character development for others.
All in all, My Heart and Other Black Holes is a very well written piece of YA fiction. I would highly recommend this book to those looking for a quick yet meaningful read.