- Title: Suicide Notes
- Author: Michael Thomas Ford
- # of Pages: 295
“I’m not crazy. I don’t see what the big deal is about what happened. But apparently someone does think it’s a big deal because here I am. I bet it was my mother. She always overreacts.
Fifteen-year-old Jeff wakes up on New Year’s Day to find himself in the hospital. Make that the psychiatric ward. With the nutjobs. Clearly, this is all a huge mistake. Forget about the bandages on his wrists and the notes on his chart. Forget about his problems with his best friend, Allie, and her boyfriend, Burke. Jeff’s perfectly fine, perfectly normal, not like the other kids in the hospital with him. Now they’ve got problems. But a funny thing happens as his forty-five-day sentence drags on: the crazies start to seem less crazy.”
Suicide Notes by Michael Thomas Ford is a novel told from the point of view of a kid who finds himself in a 45 day psychiatric hospital program after attempting to commint suicide on the night of New Years Eve. The chapters in the novel are basically entries for each day – 45 total – in which Jeff, a ffiteen year old teenager, goes through a self-discovery journey that starts from anger and denial and eventually reaches a sort of acceptance and attempt to get back up on his feet.
I’m not so sure what I think of this book. I didn’t exactly love it but I also didn’t not like it either. I’m sort of… neutral about the whole thing. I read it in a day after not knowing what to choose and then realizing just the night before I’d done my Top Ten Tuesday Summer Reading List post. It takes a while to get used to Jeff. He’s sarcastic and cynical and rarely takes a liking to anyone or anything. He spends most of the book refusing to admit he needs help and insisting he’s not crazy. He ends up befriending another girl and when a new guy comes in to the program things get sort of… weird. I won’t explain why because it’ll ruin the book but let’s just say I was totally caught off guard.
It’s kind of hard to review this book because I pretty much have to avoid discussing a very major theme in the book and saying anything substantial since it’s a huge spoiler. I guess one of the reasons I didn’t connect to the book very much is just because it had this air of… “not caring.” Jeff didn’t seem to care about anything. His entries sounded more like reports than actual writing from a fifteen year old boy. I admit there were funny parts and even some very nice sentences or conclusions he reached about his life and people in general, but they were little islands in a sea of nothingness. Jeff kept insisting he was the only sane person and he even thought the girl who’d attempted suicide by drowning was crazy which made absolutely no sense since he too had tried to commit suicide. I understand he was in denial and he pretty much spent most of the program insisting that there was nothing wrong, but the mockery for the other suicide victim seemed a bit too off for me. At one point I kind of got tired of the whole thing because it just seemed to be heading nowhere.
The book takes a turn for the better near the end. A major thing happens and it makes Jeff rethink his own personal problems and that leads to him finally opening up to the psychiatrist he’d basically just ignored or mocked up till that point. The book wraps up quite nicely and in the end it’s not so bad.
I did enjoy the book and there were some nice parts to it. It’s definitely not the best book I’ve ever read but it’s also not the worst either. The writing is good and Jeff is sort of likeable once you get the hang of him. He does get on your nerves quite a lot but he has his good sides too. There are some nice funny moments, especially for people who are cynical and sarcastic which are two traits I happen to share with Jeff. I was also surprised about that one major theme that comes up later on in the story. It’s completely unexpected and I had no clue it was that “genre” of books, if you could even call it a genre. Ugh. This is so weird because I’m talking about something I can’t even reveal. Whatever. Read it and you’ll see my point.
So to sum this long and completely evasive review – the book was okay. The reading flowed easily and nicely, the story was pleasant, there definitely was progress and character development – albeit rather slowly, but still. The book isn’t a waste of time and touches two important subjects – suicide and *insert spoiler theme here.* It’s probably not going to be the best book you ever read but I don’t think every book needs to be.
Quotes and Highlights
- And just because your life isn’t as awful as someone else’s, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck. You can’t compare how you feel to the way other people feel. It just doesn’t work. What might look like the perfect life – or even an okay life – to you might not be so perfect for the person living it.
- That’s what people do, kill the things they’re afraid of.
- “Well, you can go fuck yourself.” Only of course they bleeped out the good part because it’s daytime TV, and we all know that no one in American swears.