Suicide Notes: A Novel
Michael Thomas Ford
Reviewed by Rachael Stein (age 15) for Reader Views (7/08)
It’s New Year’s Day, and Jeff wakes up to find himself in a hospital psychiatric ward with no recollection of how he got there. Sure, he’s got bandages on his wrists from self-inflicted injuries, but it’s not like he’s crazy, or so he thinks. Jeff is sure that someone has made a mistake and that he’s not supposed to be stuck in the psych ward with all the other loonies. The weird thing is, though, that as Jeff endures his forty-five days in the crazy ward, the other crazy kids seem to be less crazy than at first glance. And the longer that Jeff stays with these other crazy kids and his psychiatrist Dr. Katzrupus (so lovingly called “Cat Poop” by an angry Jeff) he realizes he’s tired of holding everything back and not telling the truth.
“Suicide Notes” was definitely not what I expected, especially the ending. The story starts out with humor, because angry Jeff is rather funny when he’s being stubborn and sarcastic. However, as the novel progresses and Jeff wearies of all the lies in his life, he gets more serious, as does the novel. He spends more time thinking and reflecting on what he did on New Year’s Eve and why he did it. I felt that Jeff’s character dealt pretty well with the fact that he almost killed himself, but the reason for it I did not feel to be completely valid. It almost seemed as if Jeff’s reason was thrown in the story at the last minute, and it didn’t fit with the flow of the rest of the story.
Jeff’s character flows similarly to the plot. He starts out snarky and fun to laugh with, but soon he becomes darker as he dwells on his actions. Despite the snag in the plot and likewise in Jeff’s character, I felt that the story ended well with Jeff being hopeful. I did really enjoy reading about the other crazies in the hospital ward though, because crazy people always have incredibly interesting although sad stories about how they became that way.
“Suicide Notes” does an okay job of covering the serious matter of teen suicide. However, since I didn’t feel that Jeff’s reason for attempting suicide was completely suitable, it ruined part of the effectiveness of the story. Nevertheless, “Suicide Notes,” or other books covering the same topic, should be read to understand teen suicide, if not for enjoyment.