Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
Fifteen-year-old Jeff wakes up on New Year’s Day to find himself in the psychiatric ward of a hospital. Even though he doesn’t really remember what happened, he is certain that someone clearly made a huge mistake when they brought him to the ward. Jeff is determined to leave as soon as possible, claiming he doesn’t belong there. But what about the bandages on his wrists and the notes on his chart? It turns out Jeff is part of a forty-five-day program. No matter what, he won’t be able to leave early even though he himself thinks he is perfectly find and normal. Throughout his mental health journey, he meets interesting new friends and slowly starts to accept what happened to him.
About the book
In Suicide Notes, written by Michael Thomas Ford, the protagonist is the fifteen-year-old Jeff, who has just awakened to find himself in the psychiatric ward of a hospital. The story spends a total of forty-five days which are each denoted by a chapter of the novel. The title of the story makes it clear that the story will revolve around the idea of suicide. The book spends much of its time withholding the circumstances that ultimately led Jeff to attempt the act.
The author takes a bold attempt by trying to mix humor and a serious theme like mental illness and teenage suicide. The pace is fast and the story is easy to read even though it’s about such a serious theme. I don’t appreciate some of the mental illness, suicide and LGBT related humor used during this story. Not only can some of it be found offensive, especially the LGBT related parts, I also thought the humor felt forced at times.
Characters use profanity, there are sexually explicit scenes, and several mental health issues such as depression, suicide, eating disorders, self-harm are part of the plot. I didn’t enjoy some explicit scenes. As the characters are young, I believe the story should have progressed without them. I felt it was inappropriate to portray certain scenes in such a graphic manner.
Apart from the things mentioned above, Suicide Note is without doubt an interesting read. Readers can recognize and appreciate changes in Jeff throughout his mental health journey. It is also heat-warming to see Jeff overcome his denial stage and decide to confront his own problems and finally accepts who he really is.
Nonetheless, it is a story about hope and self-acceptance. It also teaches the readers that it’s okay to seek help, especially from the mental health professional, if they encounter similar problems.
Michael Thomas Ford is the author of more than 75 books in genres ranging from humor to horror, literary fiction to nonfiction. His work for adult readers includes the best-selling novels “What We Remember”, “The Road Home”, “Changing Tides”, “Full Circle”, “Looking for It” and “Last Summer”, and his five essay collections in the “Trials of My Queer Life” series. His novel “Lily” was a Tiptree Award Longlist title and a finalist for both the Lambda Literary Award and the Shirley Jackson Award. He is also the author of the Sickening Adventures series of books featuring popular contestants from Ru Paul’s Drag Race.
As a writer for young adults he is the author of the novels “Suicide Notes”, “Z”, and “Love & Other Curses”, and under the name Isobel Bird he wrote the popular “Circle of Three” series. His work has been nominated for 14 Lambda Literary Awards, twice winning for Best Humor Book, twice for Best Romance Novel, and once for Best Mystery. He was also nominated for a Horror Writers Association Bram Stoker Award for his novel “The Dollhouse That Time Forgot”.