My Heart & Other Black Holes: mental health awareness

The published front cover of Warga’s My Heart and Other Black Holes.


The published front cover of Warga’s My Heart and Other Black Holes.

Stephanie Canto, Crier staff

Trigger warning: topics of depression, mental health, and suicide.

My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga is a young adult contemporary novel that expresses the truth about topics that are hard to portray.

It follows a sixteen-year-old girl named Aysel as she struggles with the concept of living, and decides she will end her life. The only problem is, she’s not sure if she can do it alone.

Aysel finds an online forum called Suicide Partners, a place for people to find someone to commit suicide with, and meets a boy named Roman. They meet up and agree to be partners.

However, as the date they chose draws near, and the Aysel and Roman get closer, the feeling of leaving the world completely doesn’t sound as appealing to Aysel.

She has to choose between death and convincing Roman to live so they can fight their demons together.

This novel is unlike others in the young adult genre, which is known for skimping over the truth of things. Warga gives it to the audience straight: depression is not just being sad.

Mental health is a topic that some people do not like to talk about for whatever their reasoning may be, but perhaps it is time to stop putting these issues on the back burner.

It is a very real problem around the world that cannot be fixed with “exercise” or “thinking positively.” Warga is emphatically blunt about the fact that other people or friends are not always enough to fix the inner demons of an individual.

My Heart and Other Black Holes is powerful and raw. It’s about finding light even when everything around you seems dark. It’s about acceptance and healing. It’s about how everyone has something worth living for. It’s about hope.

This is such an important book,  that can be a rock to those going through it.

Even if someone has never dealt with mental health, opening one’s eyes to the reality can also open one’s mind to others.

The analogies that Warga uses to describe depression are as relatable as the characters are: extremely. There’s no sugar coating anything when Aysel says she has a “black slug” inside her, something that eats away at all potential happiness.

The writing is simple, but not in a bad way. Overcomplicating the diction would have made the story less appealing.

Everything was simply laid out, no poetic style that seemed to glorify the feelings of depression. Again, the book is raw.

If I had to recommend this book to anyone, I would say that there is no specific audience. This book is meant to be a story of hope for some, while informational for others.

Everyone can learn something from reading it: whether it’s finding even the littlest things in life to celebrate, or becoming aware of this real problem that people go through.

The month of May is considered Mental Health Awareness Month, but it should not be the only time of the year that society devotes to raising awareness of the existence and prevalence of mental health issues.

It is necessary, especially during such turbulent times, to spread kindness and support to everyone going through difficult circumstances.  The reduced hours for counseling at Health Services only make help less accommodating to students who direly need it.

Please check in on your loved ones, in particular those who easily drift away from social circles. If your friend is acting abnormal or seems to be going through something hard, please don’t hesitate to ask them if they’re okay, even if they’re just stressed about finals or last minute projects due.

Jasmine Warga in My Heart and Other Black Holes demonstrates that people’s stories of weakness and hardships are nothing to be ashamed of, but something to look upon and say, “I made it.”