Warga, Jasmine. My Heart and Other Black Holes. Balzer + Bray, 2015. $17.99. ISBN:9780062324672. 302p. Gr.9-12. P7 Q7
“…a story about the people who understand you, all of you, even the scariest and weirdest parts of you. It is about those people who come into your life when you least expect it, in the strangest of ways, and change everything – it is about the importance of letting those people in, of opening up to them. It is abut the people in your life who help you to see yourself differently and the true power of human connection.”
Sorry about the long quote, but I couldn’t have said this better. This impressive-for-an-author’s-first-book is a perfect blend of teen angst and quirky humor, dark and hopeful, sarcastic and romantic. The story centers on social misfit Aysel, whose immigrant, bipolar father commits a crime that haunts Aysel to the point she plans to commit suicide. Seeking online suicide resources she comes across a group called “smoothpassages.com” where would-be suicidal people can find partners to help them complete the act. Through smoothpassages.com she finds a young man her age, Roman, in a town nearby who is similarly motivated. Roman has been dealing with overwhelming guilt, as he blames himself for his sister’s accidental death. Strange as it sounds, their dark goal is what binds these two teens and forges a transforming relationship. Though at times the story seems superficial and the ending is rushed, it’s a good read that rises above the ranks of usual teen angst/romance. In addition to the poignant author’s note in the back of the book, the author included a list of resources for emotional support and suicide intervention.
January 2016 review by L.F., NHS Staff