Monday, June 25, 2012

Book Review: Suicide Notes by Michael Thomas Ford

Title: Suicide Notes
Author: Michael Thomas Ford
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: Oct 14, 2008
Rating: 5/5

Cover Impressions:
The cover is simple, clean and to the point.  It isn't something that would normally attract me to pick up a book, but after having read it, I like it. 

The Gist:
Jeff has been sentenced to 45 days in a psych ward following an attempted suicide.  Despite his insistence that he is not a "nut job", he must endure therapy and group with other kids that society has deemed disturbed.  As time goes on the patients start to seem less crazy - or is it that Jeff is becoming more so?

Suicide Notes is one of those books where I never really know where to start with the review.  Each chapter follows a different day of Jeff's 45 day sentence and this works really well to keep the story flowing.  Jeff is funny, self-deprecating and an all round little shit.  But a loveable little shit.  As the narrator, he spends the beginning of the book lying to his doctors, himself and, consequently, the reader.  His sessions with Dr. Cat Poop were laden with humor and thinly veiled disdain and it was compelling to watch as Jeff's walls broke down and he became tired of lying all the time.

The secondary characters are fascinating in and of themselves.  As Jeff opens up, we begin to learn more about these characters but they continue to hold a sense of mystery.  We watch them struggle, make breakthrough and suffer setbacks.  No one is miraculously "cured" and we are left to wonder what happened to them upon release.

This novel deals with some pretty heavy issues, Suicide, Arson, Drug Use, Sexuality and Self-Hate to name a few.  I fully admit that while I would allow my own children to read this one once they reached a mature age, I would not recommend it to my students due to the frank talk of sex, description of sexual acts and description of attempted suicide.  As an adult reader I can appreciate the realism and sincerity behind many of these scenes but I would be concerned that many parents might not share this view. 

Teaching/Parental Notes:

16 and Up
Gender: Both
Sex: Masturbation, Groping, Oral Sex.
Violence: Suicide and attempted suicide,
Inappropriate Language: LOTS: Fucking, Suck my Cock, Retarded, Fag, Jacked Off, Pissing, Queer, Bitch, Dick, Asshole,
Substance Use/Abuse: Underage Drinking, Talk of Drug Use


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