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My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga


Topics of Interest: secrets, promises, physics, grief, depression, suicide, friendship, identity

Curriculum Connections: English, Physics, Health and Physical Education

Gender: F/M

Age: 14+

Blurb: I want to talk about secrets for a moment. We all have them, whether they are small and relatively insignificant to our lives as a whole, or big and juicy enough that, if shared, could alter the trajectory of our futures.

Let’s face it: some people are better at keeping secrets than others. Trust is tricky and often broken, so you need to think carefully about whom you enter that pact with, or whether you want to make that pact at all. From my experience, if you don’t want your secret known, then don’t share it with anyone. And if someone does tell you a secret, for the love of god, keep it. Ultimately, the only thing you take with you in the end is your good name.

Aysel, in My Heart and Other Black Holes, has a huge secret that she hasn’t told anyone. Her father is a homicidal maniac who killed the town’s hero, but that’s not the secret she’s keeping. Everyone knows what her father did, which is why Aysel has no friends: no one wants to hang out with the girl who may, or may not, inherit her father’s psycho genes.

Aysel’s secret is that she is planning to kill herself. The depression inside her insists that it’s the only way she can save herself from becoming like her father. Besides, she reasons, everyone will be better off once she’s gone.

Aysel’s a bit worried that she may not be able to finish the deed, so she enters a pact with Roman, a local boy who plans to kill himself on April 7th. They become “suicide partners” and together begin planning their demise.

But April 7th is more than a month away and a lot can happen in that time, especially when it comes to secrets.

Flavour: “A surge jolts through my bones and I vaguely remember that this is what excitement feels like. [Roman] has perfect timing. Maybe, for the first time in my life, I’m lucky. This must be a sign from the universe—if the only time you get lucky is when you’re planning your suicide, it’s definitely time to go.” (11)

“I log off the computer and head back upstairs. I pull my physics book out of my backpack. It’s strange, but the closer I get to death, the more I want to learn. I guess I don’t want to die a complete dumbass.” (31)

“I once read in my physics book that the universe begs to be observed, that energy travels and transfers when people pay attention. Maybe that’s what love really boils down to—having someone who cares enough to pay attention so that you’re encouraged to travel and transfer, to make your potential energy spark into kinetic energy. Maybe all anyone ever needs is for someone to notice them, to observe them.” (242)

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