Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Review: My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

Published: February 10, 2015
Publisher: HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray
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.
My Thoughts
The mind is its own place and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven… ~John Milton
This book has staying power. It really does. When I find myself constantly replaying a story over and over again in my head, I know well before the book is over that I won’t soon forget the characters or their performance. My Heart and Other Black Holesis the kind of book I’m relieved to come across because it gives me hope that there are still hidden gems out there in the reading world.

Aysel is a far from a complicated character. She loves physics, has no friends, and spends her spare time planning her suicide. Coming from a small town where her father is responsible for a horrific crime that no one can forget, finding a small bit of happiness in her empty life is a constant chore. One of Aysel’s biggest fears is that she has the same genetic make-up as her father and will one day fall off the deep end. To prevent that from happening, she resorts to suicide, but can’t seem to find the courage to pull it off on her own. When she comes across a site where you can choose a suicide partner, she meets FrozenRobot.

FrozenRobot, or rather Roman, has been suffering from a family tragedy that consumes him with guilt. He knows he wants to die, and the thought of a suicide partner become his exit strategy of choice.

When Aysel and Roman meet up to plan their demise and agree on a date, they soon begin to learn about one another. As the story progresses, Aysel begins to see the light at the end of her empty life, and through Roman she begins to realize the potential of her future. However, Roman stands firm that ending his life is his only option. As their suicide date grows near, Aysel tries to find ways to change Roman’s mind about their pact.

Jasmine Warga is a clever, clever writer. I appreciated how she handled this particular topic with the right mix of brevity and sensitivity. As the chapters progressed in a final countdown manner, I couldn’t let go of the impending doom I sensed. Roman was a broken character for very good reasons. The tragedy he experienced would break just about anyone, so I sympathized with his grief and sense of despair. My hopes for Aysel to realize that she was worth more than the events of her past were pretty strong. As she contemplated her life and related it back to physics, I appreciated her conclusions and musings. Together, Roman and Aysel presented a very powerful story that included emotional moments, intellectual conclusions and ultimately unforgettable decisions.

In the end, I’m so glad I didn’t pass this book up knowing that I almost returned it to the library without even giving it a try. My Heart and Other Black Holes is a perfect choice for someone looking for a YA contemporary that you won’t soon forget.
4.5 Snowflakes

1 comment:

  1. Glad you liked this one–I’ve heard SO MUCH about it but haven’t gotten the chance to pick it up yet. Definitely need to soon though! Great review :D