My Heart and Other Black Holes; a great YA issues novel

my heart and other black holesMy rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

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.


Like this? I occasionally send out newsletters full of useful writing advice and reading titbits. If you want to receive them, click HERE to subscribe.

The Weight of Water; a charming, poignant ditty

weight of waterMy rating: 5 stars (out of 5)

I picked up The Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan, in my local library whilst getting some books for my daughter; I was attracted to the cover by Oliver Jeffers, a kids’ author I have long admired (if you are ever stuck for a toddler’s present, you can never go wrong with How to Catch a Star or Lost and Found – they are true gems).

It tells the story of Kasienka, a Polish immigrant, arriving in Coventry with her mum, looking for their father. That sounds heavy, but that’s the wonder of this book; it deals with some very heavy issues – bullying, fitting in, immigration, growing up, first love – in a very light, touching and accessible way, written in – wait for it – poetry (but you don’t even notice the poetry, except how it helps to describe and punctuate Kasienka’s feelings).

Her writing skills are a real marvel; I was amazed at how she manages to fit everything in this slight book and was so surprised to find a charming, poignant, coming of age story. Lovely.


Like this? I occasionally send out newsletters full of useful writing advice and reading titbits. If you want to receive them, click HERE to subscribe.