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Book Review – My Heart And Other Black Holes

my hearts and other black holes

Title: My Heart and Other Black Holes

Author: Becky Albertalli

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Mental Health

Length: 302

Rating: 3 Star

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Description/Synopsis:

Sixteen-year-old physics nerd Aysel is obsessed with plotting her own death. With a mother who can barely look at her without wincing, classmates who whisper behind her back, and a father whose violent crime rocked her small town, Aysel is ready to turn her potential energy into nothingness.

There’s only one problem: she’s not sure she has the courage to do it alone. But once she discovers a website with a section called Suicide Partners, Aysel’s convinced she’s found her solution: a teen boy with the username FrozenRobot (aka Roman) who’s haunted by a family tragedy is looking for a partner.

Even though Aysel and Roman have nothing in common, they slowly start to fill in each other’s broken lives. But as their suicide pact becomes more concrete, Aysel begins to question whether she really wants to go through with it. Ultimately, she must choose between wanting to die or trying to convince Roman to live so they can discover the potential of their energy together. Except that Roman may not be so easy to convince.

Review – MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS

I am going to put a warning here like I do at the start of any book I review that revolves around suicide. I have very strong, negative views on the matter. If you, or anyone you know, or even if its a topic you sympathise with, you may not want to read my review. I will do my best to not sound like a jerk, but I generally cannot understand and have little sympathy on the matter. I apologise in advance. If this sounds like something you will not handle reading about, give this review a miss.

But just because it’s cowardly doesn’t guarantee it’s going to be easy.

I like the plot of this book, despite the rant I just gave. I think it was an interesting way to have people meet each other and take their journey together. The ending for these kind of books is generally predictable and I knew at least part of the result even before I cracked open the book, but learning how they came to be where they were at the start of the book, and how they changed between then and the end is something that interests me. I read these kind of books to try and get a better understanding on why some people commit suicide, but sadly this book didn’t help change my opinion or enlighten me in anyway like All The Bright Places did. There were a number of things that annoyed me too much to really make me have a better understanding about what people with depression go through, and it was really very predictable.

In these moments, it always feels like my skin is too thin, like everyone can see right inside me, can see my empty and dark insides.

The writing style was probably my favourite part of the book. I am sure that you can see that by the number of quotes that I snuck into the review. I found many of the words to be very captivating and they were the things I connect to the most in terms of understanding. If the plot and the character development had of been more of to speed with the way things were explained or written, this book would have gotten a higher rating from me.

Maybe we all have darkness inside of us and some of us are better at dealing with it than others.

While I felt for Aysel and understood why she had the kind of feelings that she did, I didn’t connect with her like I did Roman. Roman to me, was genuinely suffering to the point where he was drowning, his issue was that he was unsure of how to swim in his emotions. Which ones to let go, which ones to hold on to, and whether or not he was allowed to feel any different. Aysel, while still having to deal with really traumatic things, I didn’t feel like they were things couldn’t let go of. That if she had just opened her mouth, things could have been better for her. There were things people go do and say to help her through what she was going through since a lot of her issues stemmed from other people, unlike with Roman where he had to come to those conclusions on his own because his issues where with himself.

Saying all that though, Roman made me far angrier than Aysel did at times. The way he acted because of his feelings, made him a manipulator, and just generally an complete selfish ass for the most part. He needed Aysel for his own reasons, and didn’t much care about hers for a long while. Confusing isn’t it? In terms of who I think I liked better as a person, it was probably Aysel, but in terms of actually understanding why they had come to the decision that they have to die, its Roman.

SPOILER – I didn’t like the way Aysel got over her issues really either. Yes, love can help you overcome many things and can help you get through dark times in your life. Did it have to be the romantic kind of love? It would have been much better story to me if it was just his friendship and his understanding that helped. If it lead to more later, that could have been cute, but it wasn’t gradual enough for me. – END SPOILER

I think I will end this review here before it gets much longer. I am not sure really who I would recommend this book to. If you want a romance book, this is not for you. If you want something that is a good representation of how depression actually is, I do’t think this book covers that really either. But I suppose that the book did raise some interesting ways to think about life and death. If these kinds of books interest you, I would read for the writing and the pictures it creates, just go into knowing that its probably not the best one out there.

 

Till Next Time…

 

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Book Review – All The Bright Places

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Title: All The Bright Places

Author: Jennifer Niven

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Mental Health

Length: 378

Rating: 4 Star

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Description/Synopsis:

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

Review – MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS

I received an ARC of this book early from the publishers, and I just want to make a shout out to the little bits of extra effort they put into this ARC. Part of the book contains a wall of post-it notes of things Finch finds interesting or enjoys in some way, so the publishers stuck post-its into each copy of the book they sent out to reviewers with different things that the publishers liked. I thought this was an absolutely adorable thing to do and it really touched my heart. Here are my post-its:

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Now, onto the actual book!

Now, we all know how I feel about books on suicide from when I reviewed Thirteen Reasons Why, but this book takes a different kind of look at depression why people might kill themselves. I feel I actually have had my views softened for some people who kill themselves. While with Hannah in TRW I thought it was mostly her fault for not speaking up or accepting the help offered. While in this book, I can see and feel the mental illness. Serious intervention would have to be taken to help the people in this book, and that would mean that people had to notice the signs instead of just shrugging them off. I admit that I even shrugged off some of the things that happen in this book as a character trait rather than a sign of something deeper. After reading this book I might not be so quick to jump to a negative thought about someone I heard who killed themselves.

The Parents… are insisting it was an accident, which, I guess, means we’re free to mourn out in the open in a normal, healthy, unstigmatised way. No need to be ashamed or embarrassed since suicide isn’t involved.

I think I liked all the characters in this book. I remember finding any of them disgusting in a way I did in TRW, I think most the side characters in this book just didn’t understand or didn’t notice any of the things that were going on.

The problem with people is they forget that most of the time it’s the small things that count.

Our main characters on the other hand are completely loveable. They are two completely different people, but they both come together at a moment when they were going to end it all and help each other in ways they didn’t even really know they needed help. Finch is up the bell tower deciding if this was the day he would kill himself or not, until he sees Violet there about to do the same thing, and he decides that he cannot let something so beautiful die and thusly he saves her and she saves him. He then lets the whole school think that she was up there to save his life, so that the whole school doesn’t pick on the pretty popular girl for thinking about death. I loved pretty much all their moments together. I was both jumping for joy and dying on the inside with the emotion that was created between the two.

“You asked why I wanted to do this with you. It’s not because you were up on the ledge too, even though, okay, that’s part of it. It’s not because I feel this weird responsibility to keep an eye on you, which is also part of it. It’s because you smiled at me that day in class. A real smile, not the bullshit one I see you give everyone all the time where your eyes are doing one thing and your mouth is doing another.”

“It was just a smile.”

“Maybe to you.”

The plot of this story is also very touching, and as I have stated, it taught me things. This book is only at a 4 start for me because the ending is not everything I wanted it to be. In the theme of the plot, the ending might have been very powerful, but just for me personally, it was not what I wanted from the book.

What if life could be this way? Only the happy parts, none of the terrible, not even the mildly unpleasant. What if we could just cut out the bad and keep the good? This is what I want to do with Violet – give her only the good, keep away the bad, so that good is all we ever have around us.

And there we have it guys. I don’t want to say anymore because I want your experience of the book to be just as powerful as it was for me. I reazd it months ago and I was only just now able to pull some thoughts together and give you guys a review. I strongly suggest you go get this book and be prepared for the emotions to come. I proudly display my ARC on my shelf, I will be reading this book again, and I might even go get a hardback to add to my collection. I have an interest in reading more good books on the topic and anything else the author publishes in a heartbeat.

Till Next Time…