Thank you to Hot Key Books and Netgalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
I first read Yasmin’s short story in A Change is Gonna Come and really loved it so I was really looking forward to reading her debut book. So I knew as soon as I heard about this book that I would love it and it did not disappoint!
Synopsis from Goodreads:
16-year-old Mehreen Miah’s anxiety and depression, or ‘Chaos’, as she calls it, has taken over her life, to the point where she can’t bear it any more. So she joins MementoMori, a website that matches people with partners and allocates them a date and method of death, ‘the pact’. Mehreen is paired with Cara Saunders and Olivia Castleton, two strangers dealing with their own serious issues.
As they secretly meet over the coming days, Mehreen develops a strong bond with Cara and Olivia, the only people who seem to understand what she’s going through. But ironically, the thing that brought them together to commit suicide has also created a mutually supportive friendship that makes them realise that, with the right help, life is worth living. It’s not long before all three want out of the pact. But in a terrifying twist of fate, the website won’t let them stop, and an increasingly sinister game begins, with MementoMori playing the girls off against each other.
A pact is a pact, after all.
This book had me sobbing by the end of the first chapter. I had never read a story where the mental health rep so completely accurate to mine and reading it felt like I had finally been seen, that someone else really understood everything that goes through my head. I have related to other characters in other books but there has never been a rep where the characters religious beliefs also influences how they feel. This book finally incorporated all aspects of my life.
I wish I had this book as a teenager when I felt that I was alone and didn’t understand why I felt this way. I even read the first chapter out loud to my husband because through Mehreen I was able to explain how it feels and how difficult it can become to manage. It’s safe to say that he was pretty shocked yet it really helped him to understand. So I hope that this book helps a lot more people too.
The book has three points of view but it is easy to distinguish between them as they each have distinct voices and personalities. All three girls are struggling yet when they meet each other, even they cannot understand why the others would want to commit suicide and I thought it was so important to see that. That just by looking at someone, even if they are smiling and laughing, they could still be drowning inside. They could still be struggling to cope with everything that is happening in their life. So it’s important not to dismiss someone, just because they look okay.
Another important theme throughout the book was friendship. How having true, understanding friends, who don’t judge you can help you get through your worst times and even save your life. Having friends that you can open up to about your mental health and they will be there for you. That’s the friendship that they found in each other, when they felt that they couldn’t speak to anyone about how they were feeling, and what made them realise that actually they want to live. There does however need to be a balance, that although friends can help you a lot it is still important to seek professional help.
Mehreen is such a wonderful character, she’s unapologetically, unflinchingly Muslim. We see her pray and talk about how that helps her, we even get a scene where the girls go out for a meal and they find somewhere halal so Mehreen can eat and I loved that Cara and Olivia were so understanding and accepting of it. I know how you can feel so left out if you’re the only Muslim in the group. But one of my favourite things that Yasmin spoke about is something that is SO IMPORTANT when speaking about mental health and especially suicide in Muslim communities. That Mehreen did not commit suicide because of her love for Allah, and that takes strength.
This is a raw, honest, heart breaking story yet it also has hope that we see as the story progresses. I absolutely loved this book and I wish I had this book as a teenager and I really think that everyone should read this book.