(Originally written for The Muses PR)
A few months back, I decided to read and review Jasmine Warga’s My Heart and Other Black Holes, a story about two depressed teenagers who plan out a partner suicide and fall in love in the process.
At first, I didn’t know how to discuss the topic of suicide or how I worried that the story could trigger those who aren’t in the best mindset and could be considered as advice to someone who wants to attempt suicide, but I didn’t want the review to sound like I hated the book so I put it on hold for a while.
I decided to rewrite it after hearing about a partner suicide attempt in Puerto Rico under similar circumstances that was mentioned in the story…. I realized now that my concern could’ve saved a life so they must be expressed.
Aysel is a neglected product of a dysfunctional relationship between Turkish immigrants; her father is a convicted murderer and her mother is a remarried housewife pretending to live a normal life with her new family.
Now, how does a physics nerd and an all-American jock end up in each other’s lives with such a morose intention? The two meet online and choose to plan their deaths together.
The way that Warga displays mental illness as the story develops is very realistic, both abstract and concrete at the same time. Her descriptions give an insight to those who have never suffered from mental illness so they can understand exactly how it feels and how it consumes you. Here is an example that gave me chills:
I bet if you cut open my stomach, the black slug of depression would slide out. Guidance counselors always love to say, “Just think positively,” but that’s impossible when you have this thing inside of you, strangling every ounce of happiness you can muster. My body is an efficient happy-thought-killing machine. (Page 40, My Heart and Other Black Holes)
Aysel’s perspective on Roman’s depression and her father’s apparent bipolar disorder is very descriptive and critical for the story development since it shows that anyone can suffer from mental illness and might not reflect on the outside.
Despite Warga’s pain over losing someone and her inspiration to write such a compelling story, the right thing to do should’ve been stating a trigger warning or to have aimed the story towards a different audience, maybe for parents or just a more mature audience that can actually handle the content.
If you feel like you’re mature enough to handle the content without affecting or provoking any rash or irreversible impulses, I’d say take this book for a spin because it’s worth it. It’s definitely an amazing book, I give it five stars, I just don’t think it’s for everyone, and definitely not meant for “light reading”.