First Friday – Five Favorite Things – Debut Novel Day

April 3, 2015 | Comment

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Dave Amaditz and 

Welcome to April’s version of – First Friday – Five Favorite Things – Debut Novel Day. In this
monthly series, we ask five simple questions about a debut novel that will
hopefully entice anyone reading this post to pick up the novel and read it themselves,
and/or give them at a glance some insight into the author’s writing style and
voice as well as how some of the characters might think or act. We do this by
presenting, first, answers to our Five
Favorite Things
, followed by the author’s answers in a follow-up post.

This month we’re pleased to highlight debut novelists,
Jasmine Warga and her novel, My Heart and
other Black Holes
. Aysel is depressed and contemplating suicide. She makes
a pact with a suicide partner. The day for them to do it is set, but something
happens to her in the meantime to throw a wrench into her plans.
1) What is your favorite line or paragraph from the novel as it relates to
the main character’s development and/or growth?

Dave – There are so many places
within the novel where the main character grows. More specifically, where the
main character realizes she might be changing and why, and all were written so
well it was hard to choose. In the end, I decided to go with the one that
follows. I think why I chose it is pretty self-explanatory.

“Someone had too much wine,” I say in as normal of voice as I can.
I know he said that last night didn’t change anything, but I don’t know how to
act like things haven’t changed. He’s no longer FrozenRobot, my Suicide Partner
from the Internet. He’s Roman, the boy who kissed me by the river and held me
all night. To me, there’s a difference. A big difference. He’s no longer the
person I want to die with; he’s the person I want to be alive with.

Marcy –  The main character goes through many changes
throughout the novel. This scene happens when Aysel talks her suicide partner,
Roman (a.k.a. – Frozen Robot) into going to a local festival. Roman decides to try to win Aysel a prize at the basketball hoop game. He hasn’t played the real game of basketball in almost a year. Aysel sees
his passion and joy shine through as he makes each basket. Watching Roman experiencing joy gives her a bit of hope.

All of a sudden, I realize what that shadowy something is. It’s
joy. FrozenRobot loves basketball. He loves playing it. No matter how hard he
tries to push that joy away, it’s there. I wonder if joy has potential energy.
Or if there is potential energy that leads to joy, like a happiness serum that
lingers in people’s stomachs and slowly bubbles up to create the sensation we know
as happiness.

If that’s true, my black slug eats all of mine. Scratch that. Most
of mine. Watching FrozenRobot play basketball almost made me smile. Key word:

2) What is your favorite chapter ending or cliffhanger?

Dave – There were so many cliffhangers
to choose from. In the end, I chose this because of its upbeat message as well
as the literal versus figurative meaning attached.

“I’ll let you know if I hear anything else about my dad,” I call

At this point, I don’t even care if his mom hears. For the first
time in my life, my dad is the least of my worries. I watch Roman drop the
camping supplies on the doorstep. He gives me a small backward wave, but he
doesn’t turn around. I need to figure out some way to turn him around. To turn
him all the way around.

Marcy –  Aysel and her mom have a long overdue heart
to heart about Aysel’s feelings. This chapter  ending allows the reader to share an intimate scene between mother and daughter.

“I know,” I say, and lean into her again. I breath in her floral
perfume and it reminds me of when I was younger, before the heaviness inside me
became so overwhelming, so unbearable. I wonder if that’s how darkness wins, by
convincing us to trap it inside ourselves, instead of emptying it out.
I don’t want it to win.

3) Who is your favorite secondary character and why?

Dave – My favorite secondary
character is Mrs. Franklin, Roman’s (Aysel’s Suicide Partner) mother. The
concern and caring she shows her son, because of his depression, is genuine and
is expressed so well in the following lines of dialogue.

“Okay, well, you kids have fun. But Roman…” She puts her hand on
his shoulders and her pink lacquered fingernails glint in the glow of my car’s
headlights. “Will you call me if you’re going to be out late?”


In a quiet voice, she adds, “This is new for me. Letting him go
off alone, unsupervised. But I couldn’t say no to him. He just seemed so happy
when he talks about you. This will be good for him, right?”

Marcy –  There were so many unique and terrific
supporting characters in this novel. I have to choose Mr. Scott, Aysel’s
physics teacher. He shows how with small acts of kindness, teachers can play a
huge role in their students’ lives.

He places a glossy brochure in front of me. “The University of
Kentucky sponsors a two-week summer program for students interested in the
sciences.” He grabs a chair from the desk in front of mine and pulls it up so
he can sit across from me. He opens the brochure and points at the text on the
third page. “There’s even a special physics program. I think you’d really enjoy

I take a deep breath. I can’t exactly tell Mr. Scott that I won’t
be able to attend that summer program because I won’t be alive. “I have to work
during the summer.”

His lips twist into a sympathetic smile. I’ve never noticed how
dark and soft his eyes are; they remind me of a horse. Maybe I was wrong about
Mr. Scott. Maybe he did always want to be a teacher. Maybe he’s one of those
people who were built for caring.

“You don’t have to worry about the money if you get in. They give
you a scholarship for the tuition and room and board for the two weeks.” He
pushes the brochure closer to me. “I think it’d be a really great experience
for you, Aysel.”

I take the brochure and slide it down into the depths of my
backpack. I tell him I’ll consider applying and thank him for thinking of me.
Later, in math class, I pull the brochure back out and run my fingers over
the shiny photographs. I wonder about all the so-called great experiences I’m
going to miss; I wonder about the relativity of greatness.
4) What is your favorite line or paragraph of description?

Dave - I picked two separate sections
because I think they define well the dichotomy of feelings Aysel felt, the
first from the beginning of the novel, the second from the end. In the first
section she responds to her sister, Georgia, who asks if she has a boyfriend.

I can’t help but laugh. If I have a boyfriend, his name is Death.
And I’m pretty sure Roman is in love with him, too. It’s like a love triangle
gone wrong. Or maybe it’s a love triangle gone right: we both get the guy on
April 7.
The next selection occurs during a
conversation with her Suicide Partner, Roman, who she has grown to care about,
as he cares about her.

Something inside me clicks. It’s like I’ve spent my whole life
fiddling with a complicated combination only to discover I was toying with the
wrong lock. And now, the vault inside of me that contains all my secrets is
swinging open and I feel this rush of blood swell in my chest.

–  Aysel is the only one who truly
understands Roman and he is the only one who understands her.

Frozen Robot does have a frozen quality. All of his movements and
facial expressions have a tension to them, like he was carved out of stone and
locked in a chamber of ice and recently brought back to life. I don’t know how
to describe it, but the more I stare at him, the more I see his grief wrapped
around him like shackles he can never take off. I try to imagine him without
the grief, without the heaviness, without the frozenness, but it’s hard to see
him as anything other than desperately sad. Yes, he looks like someone who was
designed to be popular and successful, but he also looks like someone who was
made to wear grief.
5) What is your favorite line of dialogue?

Dave - This line was spoken from
one of Aysel’s coworkers. The lady is usually somewhat of a pain because she
always bugs Aysel about doing her job. It caused me to laugh out loud because
Aysel had just met a boy, Roman, her Suicide Partner.

“You’re just weird today.” She gets up and heads to the coffee
maker. “It’s almost like you’re happy. Did you finally meet someone?”

–  Love these lines of dialogue. Roman wins
Aysel a huge stuffed animal at the carnival basketball game. Aysel tells the
attendant that she doesn’t want the prize.

try my best to explain. “Like if another kids comes to play but doesn’t make
any shots. Can you let them have a prize anyway?” I bite my bottom lip.

woman puts her hands on her hips. “But how will I know what kid to give it

shrug. “Give it to the one who looks like they need it the most, whoever looks
like the loneliest.”
read more about Jasmine Warga’s My Heart and other Black Holes debut
novel please go to:

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