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Suicide Notes

Review

Suicide Notes

SUICIDE NOTES is a novel by Michael Thomas Ford, author of Z, several adult novels, and several nonfiction books about the LGBTQ community and the HIV/AIDS crisis.

SUICIDE NOTES begins with a frustrated, closed-up, 15-year-old boy named Jeff who wakes up in the psychiatric ward on New Year’s Day and is absolutely positive he doesn’t belong there --- he’s not crazy, after all. Jeff has been placed into a 45-day residential mental illness treatment program for teens after he attempts suicide. At first, he is judgmental of the other patients and is resistant to sharing or socializing, but as time goes on he realizes that the other kids who are with him are not really “crazy” and he begins to make friends and slowly come to terms with with why he tried to commit suicide in the first place and who he is as a person.

"Michael Thomas Ford did an excellent job with the character development in this novel; it is so realistic --- possibly why it was almost off-putting in the first place --- and it is written so naturally..."

When I first started SUICIDE NOTES, I was not exactly enthused by what I was reading. The protagonist was somewhat irritating and it seemed to be insensitive of people who are dealing with severe mental illness, but as I continued reading I saw the growth of Jeff throughout the novel, saw how his opinions changed and how he began to understand himself and others to a greater extent. Michael Thomas Ford did an excellent job with the character development in this novel; it is so realistic --- possibly why it was almost off-putting in the first place --- and it is written so naturally, Jeff develops slowly and over time, but this is exactly what makes it great. There is less written about the supporting characters and Jeff’s relationships with them which was a bit disappointing, but it does make sense given the novel mainly focuses on Jeff’s relationship with himself.

Ford’s writing style is somewhat blunt and it really brings the reader into the mind of the protagonist. Though not my personal favorite, it is clear that with SUICIDE NOTES, Ford intended it to be this way to make sure the reader understands who Jeff is. Even though the reader is able to learn a great deal about the main character through the writing, Ford is still able to include twists and turns in the plot without revealing anything too early. Unfortunately, SUICIDE NOTES does rely on stereotypes for some of the more minor characters, however the book was originally published in 2008, so some slack can given, but readers should be aware of this going into reading the novel. Despite its faults, SUICIDE NOTES is largely a very enjoyable read that is able to deal with challenging topics while still including a spark of humor throughout.

Readers of realistic fiction who are looking for a unique story in the genre will certainly enjoy SUICIDE NOTES; however, it is also a quick read perfect for anyone looking for a genuinely complex story.

Reviewed by Ansley K., Teen Board Member on March 19, 2019

Suicide Notes
by Michael Thomas Ford