Not like my usual reviews, but I was so in love with this book and it’s message, and it was so deeply personal to me, I had to share my thoughts here. Trigger Warning: Depression Ahoy. Like, hardcore.
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—Roman, a teenage boy 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.
This was a difficult one for me. You may wonder why someone who struggles with depression, whose preteen son struggles with depression, would choose a book about two teens who make a suicide pact, but there’s an easy answer to that. I have been picking books lately by literally eeny meeny-ing my way through my TBR. Surprise! The book you put on your list years ago, when it wouldn’t be nearly as emotionally jarring for you, has you nearly sobbing and eating your nails off on the NYC subway!
This book was gorgeous. So many beautiful lines on such a painful subject. So much hope hidden in the pages. The author’s use of principles of physics to highlight the potential energy in living and the relativity in how we each see our lives was just so beautiful, and ended up being discussed with my son who may be too young to read this book without turning it into a reason to be more depressed, but is actually intelligent enough to understand these two principles of physics. I loved the inherent hope in these universal principles.
While other readers thought the romance between the two main characters was trite and obvious in a YA book, I found it refreshing. The best part about it being that it’s not what saved them. What saved them was finally talking to each other about what they were going to. It was opening themselves up. Aysel and, we find, Roman, was not speaking to anyone about her internal life. When she opened herself up to Roman, she slowly began unburdening herself. It happens slowly, so slowly you may miss it (and many readers seem to have missed it) but you can see Aysel freeing herself the minute she starts speaking to people more, acknowledging this feeling inside of her, embracing her potential energy. And Roman is doing the same, even though we don’t see it outwardly, we can see it in the way he keeps trying to convince himself that nothing about their plan can change, in the way he holds Aysel tighter, in the way he tries to do it on his own before Aysel can stop him. He’s made himself this mission, and he feels it slipping and he’s grabbing on even harder because he’s afraid to let it go. In the end, when they both decide against it, it feels real. And it doesn’t feel like a solution, like an ending.
It feels like potential energy.