Title: My Heart and Other Black Holes
Author: Jasmine Warga
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: February 10, 2015
Jasmine Warga’s My Heart and Other Black Holes is as heartbreaking as it is hopeful. Ayzel has been silently dealing with a growing sadness that’s been gnawing away at her insides. Ayzel’s relationship with her father was never perfect, especially when he seemed to get more and more unstable, but she always felt more of a connection with him than her mother. But when her father committed an unspeakable crime, Ayzel had no choice but to join her mother’s new family. Not only does she feel like an outsider in her small town, where everyone looks at her as an extension of her father, but even in her own home, she knows she’s different from her stepsiblings. Ayzel is convinced that it’s only a matter of time before whatever lurked inside her father comes barreling out of her. After all, how can she still love a man who committed such an unspeakable act?
Ayzel is ready for a way out and suicide feels like her only option. When she makes a suicide pact with Roman, a fellow teen also dealing with depression, she has every intention of following through. But Ayzel begins to have doubts the more she spends time with him and the more she begins to realize what she’ll be leaving behind. Both Ayzel and Roman are dealing with loss, while one is consumed with fear, the other is consumed with guilt. It’s important to note that these characters come from different backgrounds and are dealing with different issues. It’s a reminder that depression isn’t predictable, that it can affect anyone and it isn’t an easy road to travel.
My Heart and Other Black Holes deals unapologetically with depression and suicide. Warga is quick to remind readers that mental illness is not something to be romanticized, to hold up on a pedestal and call beautiful. It’s messy, all-consuming, and does not come with a quick fix. Hope is also an important concept in this novel; Warga provides another way out for her characters without giving an unrealistic impression that treatment will be easy.