Saturday, April 11, 2015

Tea Time: My Heart and Other Black Holes

**Warning: Spoilers May Abound**

My Heart and Other Black Holes, Jasmine Warga
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.

Narrative-Told from the first-person POV of Aysel, MY HEART AND OTHER BLACK HOLES is a smoothly-told story about Aysel's attempts - first - to plan her own suicide, and - second - to beat her depression. The voice is  incredibly conversational, which is what I think made it so easy to read, and the additions of Aysel's passion for physics in the form of metaphors gave it its own flair, a series of details that are easy to latch onto and helpful to really understand Aysel's perspective on the events of the novel.

Plot-Aysel wants to commit suicide because she's terrified of becoming her father; she manages to find a suicide partner who lives in a town fifteen minutes away because she's certain that if she had a partner, maybe she'd actually go through with it. Enter Roman/FrozenRobot.

Aysel's journey through what was supposed to be her final month of life is a long one; while she tries to convince herself that she's going to go through with the suicide pact she made with Roman, she also starts finding reasons to live. She finds her strength through time spent with Roman: learning about him and his past and his reasons to kill himself, and the interesting development was that as much as Roman started to doubt Aysel's commitment to their pact, his growing feelings for her inspire him to try to spare her, even as he accuses her of flaking from the very beginning of their relationship.

MY HEART is about learning to live even while planning to die; the stasis of relationships is disproven as Aysel's perception changes, and it's this change in perception that ultimately drives the novel. Even if the pacing is uneven and bumpy at times, Aysel's story is largely told through a lens that's unafraid to dive into an analysis of depression (Aysel eventually calling it the "black slug"); even more, it's told through a lens that paints an image of the strength it takes to fight that depression.

Characters-Aysel is a girl struggling to overcome the shadow of her father's violent deed; Roman is a boy cracking under the guilt he feels over his sister's death. Both characters are struggling, and while one of them has fully committed to the idea of committing suicide, the other slowly starts to change their perception and think that maybe there is a way to live with their pain, even if it never goes away, and a large part of this new perception begins with the idea that it's okay to let others in, and to give other people a place in your life to help or at least be a hopeful presence.

It's largely this idea that disappointed me. Aysel has a step-father who's mentioned, but who we never see; her half-sister is mentioned numerous times but only gets a few scenes of page-time; her half-brother is mentioned, but only gets a few scenes; even her mother doesn't get a lot of page-time. Aysel's assigned a group project, and her partner is a boy who we only see maybe two or three times out of the whole book.

What disappointed me was the fact that the lack of physical presence for these characters was extremely glaring. I wanted so much more, to really see how their influence on Aysel - even if their relationship is one-sided or rocky - really affected her. I simply felt like they were stretched too thin, and thus fell into sort of contrived or stereotyped roles, even though I know there's a lot more to them than I was able to see. Their lack of flesh stalled my understanding of Aysel's development as a character. Which made me really sad, even if I loved Aysel and her character to death.

Final Answer: 4 / 5 stars

Tweet It:

MY HEART AND OTHER BLACK HOLES @jasminewarga is fearless. Read @Rae_Slater's review (Click to Tweet)

No comments:

Post a Comment