Author: Michael Thomas Ford
Publication Date: 10/1/08
Blurb (GR): 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.
Compelling, witty, and refreshingly real, Suicide Notes is a darkly humorous novel from award-winning author Michael Thomas Ford that examines that fuzzy line between "normal" and the rest of us.
It feels a little weird to say that I felt a book about a 45-day program in a juvenile psychiatric unit was really funny. But it was—in parts. This book, written in journal entries from day one of the program until the last day, focuses on Jeff’s evaluation of why he tried to kill himself. His voice is reminiscent of Holden Caulfield, only he doesn’t call everyone phonies—just whackjobs.
Jeff introduces us to the other young adults in the unit, some of whom come and go during his stay. He also has to see a psychiatrist during his time in the program, the delightful Dr. Katzrupus. (or Cat Poop, as Jeff dubs him) At first, I felt like we weren’t getting to know each supporting character well enough but isn’t that the point? I mean, Jeff is in this program solely to figure out what his issues are. These are his journal entries we are reading. And it all felt real—I felt anxious with him, sad for him, mortified with him, and so hopeful that maybe it would all work out. The relationship he had with his sister made me laugh the most, though.
While this book definitely deals with a lot of morbid topics, the feel is decidedly optimistic for the most part. I enjoyed the fact that Jeff was very matter-of-fact about most things and the conversations he had with people didn’t really tiptoe around the serious stuff. His doctor/patient relationship with Dr. Katzrupus was a highlight as well.
I’d definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a male voice in the female-saturated YA world. Though I hope this wouldn’t affect anyone’s choice to read a book or not, there are some M/M sexual scenes. Just putting that out there. I’ll definitely read more from this author.