By Marissa Eller
“You’re like a gray sky. You’re beautiful, even though you don’t want to be.”
Jasmine Warga’s debut young adult novel, My Heart and Other Black Holes, perfectly depicts the highs and lows of depression. Through beautifully painful metaphors and blindingly real characters, Warga shows the world that mental illness takes over every piece of a sufferer’s life.
Aysel is depressed.
All she can think about is ending her own life, but she doesn’t have the courage do it alone. To remedy her small problem, Aysel finds a suicide partner, Roman, through an online suicide-connection database.
They get to know each other, purely in an effort to assure themselves that they were making the right decision. But as they learn more and more about each other’s pain and struggles, they also start to fill each other’s empty spaces and start to realize that depression might not be the only thing that’s important in their lives. They start to fall in love with each other, and they start to pull each other up from the black hole of depression.
“I’m not asking you to live for me. Even though that would be nice because I’m in love with you. And yeah, yeah, you can tell me I’m misusing that word, but I don’t care. That’s how I feel. But this isn’t even about me, or how I feel about you. I want you to live for you because I know there’s so much more waiting for you. There’s so much more for you to discover and experience. And you deserve it, you might not think you do, but you do. I’m here to tell you that you deserve it. And I know I sound cheesy as hell. Believe me, six weeks ago, I would’ve slapped myself for saying shit like this, but knowing you… Knowing you has helped me see things differently. See myself differently. And all I want is for you to see yourself the way that I do.”
In the end, Aysel realizes that she doesn’t want to die with Roman; she wants to live with him.
My Heart describes mental illness better than any other book on the market. Calling depression a “black slug” that lives in the chests of the mentally ill is as close to a literary masterpiece as anything written in this century.
And though Aysel is mentally ill, she is as powerful as Katniss Everdeen and as intelligent as Hermione Granger. She has all the workings of the female characters that feminists drool over.
My Heart and Other Black Holes is the most powerful story I’ve ever read. The characters are brutally raw, and the plot is painfully accurate. Endlessly strong female characters like Aysel prove that any roadblock in life can be conquered through faith in yourself (and maybe a little love on the way).