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Redwood Bark

Utopia or Dystopia? The hidden history of Bay Area cults
Utopia or Dystopia? The hidden history of Bay Area cults
Linnea Koblik and Tallulah Knill AllenJuly 12, 2024

Silhouetted against the sweeping landscapes of the Bay and the Marin Headlands, the Bay Area is well known for its position in the counterculture...

Public protests and perspectives
Public protests and perspectives
Ava Stephens, Gabriella Rouas, Aanika Sawhney, Nadia Massoumi and Grace GehrmanJune 29, 2024

Reflejando otra vez con los ELD seniors
Reflejando otra vez con los ELD seniors
Ava CarlsonJune 27, 2024

El año pasado, tuve la oportunidad de hablar con estudiantes del grado 12 en la clase de English Language Development (ELD) sobre sus experiencias...

Book Review: “My Heart and Other Black Holes”

In her new romance novel, “My Heart and Other Black Holes,” author Jasmine Warga tells the story of a 16-year-old girl living in the wake of her father’s disastrous mistake.

This fiction novel follows the life of a high schooler over the course of nearly a month as she decides that she wants to take her own life with the help of another student nearby. Despite the gloomy plotline, “My Heart and Other Black Holes”proved to be both engaging and enjoyable.

In “My Heart and Other Black Holes,” a sixteen year old girl contemplates suicide after her father is convicted of murder.

The book is written from the perspective of Aysel Seran, who decides she wants to kill herself when her life takes an unexpected turn. After her father goes to jail for murdering the town’s well-known high school track star, Aysel is left in a dark place. From what she can see, there is no way out. After searching online for a potential “suicide partner,” she finds Roman, a 17-year-old from a nearby town.

The novel offers a new angle that isn’t seen too often in teen fiction. Romance and action are common themes among many young adult books, but the novel, Warga’s first, reflects on not only these popular trends, but also on the more challenging side of a teenager’s life.

Warga expresses suicide in an original way––as something that, while still morbid, isn’t a topic that is always too depressing when written about in a story. By conveying the important points of the story without going into detail about the darker, more depressing aspects of suicide, Warga avoids writing a novel that is sad or uncomfortable to read. Instead of a monotonous theme of sorrow, Warga creates a more realistic plotline.

The strongest aspect of this book is the suspense. Although the ending becomes more and more predictable as the plot develops, the author includes several plot twists that made me question whether or not the book would actually end as I expected it to. While the book has a predictable ending, an unexpected series of events leading up to the final chapter make it more enjoyable.

The book is written so that, even in the sad scenes, there is some sense of happiness or hope. Warga makes references to other parts of the story, such as the main characters’ siblings and family, giving the reader a sense of optimism. However, this also creates suspense because of how the minor characters are so oblivious to the situation.

Much of the story is focused on the everyday life of the main character, Aysel. By including day-to-day events like school and family traditions, Warga makes the concepts in the book seem much more likely. If she were to omit these parts about the personal lives of the two main characters, Aysel and Roman, she would lose the parts of the story that personally connect the main characters to the reader.

Despite the heavy content not meant for anyone younger than high school, the writing itself is easily understandable, due to its non-complex language. “My Heart and Other Black Holes” connects with a younger audience through the main character, Aysel, and the author perfectly depicts the relevance of suicide in a teenager’s life.

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About the Contributor
Isabella Alioto, Author