Book: My Heart and Other Black Holes
Author: Jasmine Warga
“The problem with suicide, which most people don’t realize, is that it’s really hard to follow through. I know, I know. People are always yammering on and on about how “suicide is the coward’s way out.” And I guess it is – I mean, I am giving up, surrendering. Running away from my black hole of a future, preventing myself from growing into the person I’m terrified of becoming. But just because it’s cowardly doesn’t guarantee it’s going to be easy.”
It’s hard to explain how I loved, but also hated, this book. It was completely perfect until, well, it wasn’t anymore… The bubble of understanding, feeling like someone out there understood was burst and, for that, it has to loose a star.
My Heart and Other Black Holes follows the story of Aysel – a young, seventeen year old girl who suffers from depression. Having struggled with these feelings myself, I saw a bond with Aysel and ‘the black slug’ that lived in her stomach. In fact, the descriptions of her sadness were beautiful and, like all the other books I’ve read recently about mental health, it helped me realise even more just how many people understand.
“What people never understand is that depression isn’t about the outside; it’s about the inside. Something inside me is wrong. Sure, there are things in my life that make me feel alone, but nothing makes me feel more isolated and terrified than my own voice in my head.”
The thing is, Aysel has decided to commit suicide. She no longer wants to live in a world where the black slug that lives deep in her is directing her life. However, she’s scared that she won’t follow through and it’s her worst fear to only half do the job, ending up in a wheelchair or with a carer for the rest of her life. And that’s when she meets FronzenRobot (Roman) – her suicide partner.
From here, Aysel’s story is about the days leading up to the event – April 7th. But, soon, Aysel’s feelings start to change. Something is different to what it used to be and, surprisingly to her, the black slug that lives inside her isn’t ruining everything anymore. Is that happiness she feels? Is there something to live for after all? Can she change her mind now, or is she in too deep?
“It’s painful to watch all my classmates tear apart each line [of the poem], looking for the significance. Anyone who has actually been that sad can tell you that there’s nothing beautiful or literary or mysterious about depression.
Depression is like a heaviness that you can’t ever escape. It crushes down on you, making even the smallest things like tying your shoes or chewing on toast seem like a twenty mile hike uphill. Depression is a part of you; it’s in your bones and your blood. If I know anything about it, this is what I know: It’s impossible to escape.”
FrozenRobot and Aysel are very a like. They’re both very realistic about their situation, but at the same time are both very different. I like that Roman shows a different angle to having depression – he doesn’t look depressed, like he wants to kill himself or all the other stereotypical nonsense that people normally speil. He’s the unexpected candidate. They worked well together and I can understand how they ended up where they did by the end of the story.
In fact, I loved everything about the relationship they had and, in some ways, I crave it. Towards the end of the book, Aysel talked about being deflated in a positive way once her secrets were out in the open – how she felt lighter and better for them. That, despite how exposed she felt, it didn’t scare her anymore because of how the darkness had been turned to light, the shadows didn’t consume her anymore. It was beautiful.
I also really enjoyed the physic and scientific links that were thread into the story:
“Does a dead body still have potential energy or does it get transferred into something else? Can potential energy just evaporate into nothingness?”
Talking about the physics and linking in the theory’s of relativity was really clever and I thought the weaving together of philosophy and physics was really really interesting. The question about what happens to us when we die is an old one, but I found this take on it refreshing:
“If energy cannot disappear but can only be transferred, what happens to our energy when we die?”
Where my issues lie in the book are in the last 20ish%. I saw what happened coming and I new it would ruin everything for me. Seemingly over night, Aysel essentially went from being depressed to feeling okay – something which is obviously not true or possible. It misinterprets depression, something which Jasmine Warga and worked so hard to explain in the perfect way to begin with. That switch in my brain can’t be switched and, quite frankly, I didn’t appreciate someone implying that it could.
However, despite my frustration at the ending, the beauty of this book still rang clear hours after finishing it.
“For too long, I’ve made my past my future, afraid to imagine anything else. And I acted like that – static – afraid of my own kinetic energy. Maybe it’s time to start imaging, maybe it’s time to be in motion. Maybe it’s time for me to fight back against the sadness inside of me.”