I feel like I should be reading all these books for Mental Illness Awareness Week or something because, man, there are a lot of books out there about depressed teens. I seem to have a certain affinity for books where two teens end up supporting each other through rough times, especially when they both narrate. I like the multiple viewpoints that round out the narrative and lend a little bit of mystery to each person’s story. My Heart and Other Black Holes definitely has that element of mystery to it because neither of these kids is telling their whole truth.
Synopsis: Two teens meet in an online group where people pair up to assist each other in completing their suicide plans. Although neither of them want to share their story or develop attachments, it’s impossible to share such a secret without sharing something of yourself.
While I would love to believe that the site that Aysel and Roman find each other on could never be real, I have a feeling that I would be proven wrong with a simple Google search. I am constantly amazed at the lengths people will go through to try to end the pain and suffering that mental illness brings, and yet there are still others out there who think that you can just smile it away. I’m honestly so glad that there are books being written about these issues that aren’t sugar coating the issues that teens face today.
“Maybe we all have darkness inside of us and some of us are better at dealing with it than others.”
One of the things that I really appreciated about this book was that there are moments where secondary characters show caring and compassion for the main characters, and Aysel and Roman just can’t see it. It feels like a very real way to show how messed up depression can make your perceptions. People keep asking “are you okay?” or “do you want to talk?” but the depression keeps lying to them, making them think that that no one cares.
Both of the characters really want to keep their reasons for committing suicide a secret, which means that we never really have a true understanding of their motivations until closer to the end of the book. Even though I thought I knew were things were going, I was still surprised by some of the revelations along the way. Both narrators had a lot more going on with their stories than I had initially expected.
Overall, I was really impressed by the way this book handled mental illness. I would have liked to see a bit more awareness from the adults in their lives, but I’m coming to realize that even in real life we often miss the big warning signs from people. Reading YA has just made it more obvious to me.
LC rating: (one of the more realistic
views of depression I’ve read, surprising ending)