There are lots of brilliant YA books about suicide (All The Bright Places, Thirteen Reasons Why, Wintergirls, etc) – if a book about suicide can be called brilliant – and My Heart and Other Black Holes is (almost) just as good.
In the same vein as All The Bright Places, the two main characters (Aysel and Roman) meet while contemplating suicide. It’s a great study in how to write a successful YA book – it follows all the basic rules. 1) Make a countdown (they plan to kill themselves in a month). 2) Give them serious, well-thought-out reasons to die. 3) And create a full-blown basic attraction between the two main characters. The writing is a bit generic but well done, full of warmth and you do root for them (even though I ultimately felt they weren’t as memorable as some of the other characters from the other books in this genre).
My only gripe would be about how the big reveal relies on us not knowing the reason why Aysel wants to kill herself. In an age where everyone googles everyone else to find out everything about them, it feels a bit weak that the main characters wouldn’t have had that conversation before they actually do. The author does address it – “I’m pretty sure that a basic google search would have given him an inkling. There aren’t many Turkish people in Langston, let alone Kentucky” – but it still didn’t ring too true. I also felt the ending was sewn up a little too neatly for my adult tastes. That said, it’s a very solid YA read.
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