Suicide Notes- Michael Thomas Ford.

Synopsis from GoodReads.
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

.

“It’s a really crappy feeling to realize that your entire outlook on your life can be controlled by some little pill that looks like a Pez, and that some weird combination of drugs can make your brain think it’s on a holiday somewhere really sweet when actually you’re standing naked in the middle of the school cafeteria while everyone is takes pictures of you. Metaphorically. Or whatever.”

 

High Points.
I actually choked with laughter on my panad at approximately 90% of this book. The other 10% I was trying to piece my heart back together as it was shattered into smithereens. This book caused very strong reactions in me, as you can probably tell. Friendship. Relationships. Perfect combination of Family. Understanding. Realistic, unflinching portrayal of kids with mental illnesses. Diversity. Siblings. Cat Poop. Watching old films. Acceptance. Hope. Positivity. Gah… I loved this book.

Low Points.
Hmm… this isn’t for the book itself because I honestly can’t think of anything that I didn’t like about it. But I know that this book isn’t for everyone but I’ll cover this in my angst section.

Hero.
OK, I’m just going to put this out there. I love Jeff. Literally, metaphorically and physically, although I don’t think I’d be allowed to break his ‘No Hugging’ rule he has. Sigh. Jeff’s narration is manic, breathless and flits off onto random tangents (“One minute I’m sitting around eating chocolate chip cookies and then all of the sudden I’m thinking about bears.”) but it’s never hard to follow.
He is self-deprecating, sarcastic and doesn’t hold anything back…. Except the important things.
What I found the most fascinating/upsetting about Jeff’s character was that, yes, he was hilarious and came out with some fantastic one liners… but it often seemed that his humour and deadpan commentary was a knee-jerk reaction. Jeff uses his humour as a defence mechanism and I think that was one of the reasons why, when the going began to get tough and Jeff began to realise that he had to face certain things about himself, I found him so endearing because I could relate and I’m sure a lot of other people could as well.
Maybe, at the end of the day, we’re all a bit crazy.

Best Friends/Love Interest
I’m going to go ahead and skip these two because there such an important aspect of, not only the story, but in Jeff’s development and I would hate to spoil it for any people who haven’t read it yet.
So just read it so we can discuss!

Theme Tune.

People say that I’m crazy
But I’m not that way inclined
I know what I know and I’ll happily show
That madness is all in the mind.

A little nod at Jeff and his, shall we say, predicament. I like to think he’d be a Madness fan.

Angst Level.
10/10. I’m going to have to apologise in advance for the vagueness of this section but I don’t want to go into too much detail because I think this book is best read knowing nothing.
Like I mentioned earlier, this book isn’t for everyone. There are very graphic descriptions of self-harm and they are shocking and often difficult to read. But Ford perfectly depicts all the raw feelings that Jeff experiences and the scenes are never glorified and he never resorts to sensationalism which some authors tend to when dealing with suicide attempts and self harming.
I also loved the way the reader was kept in the dark about the reason behind Jeff’s suicide attempt was cleverly done and highly affective right up until the last few chapters.
Even though the angst level is extremely high and this book is harrowing in some points, there is a highly positive vein running through the heart of Jeff’s story. I know not all kids out there going through these issues will get the happy ending that Jeff does, but it’s comforting to know that there is somewhere for them to turn even when there isn’t.
I feel like I’m doing this book a huge disservice by dwelling on this side of things because, yes it’s dark… but it’s also one of the most hilarious and heart-warming books I’ve read in a while.
I’m really looking forward to reading more from Ford because he it is obvious that he is a talented and capable writer, both with humour but also the serious stuff, too.

Recommended For.
People who have ever felt there’s no one to turn to. People who love books that are a bit darker than your average. People who give nicknames to people with names they can’t pronounce. People who think they could do a better job at coming up with the dialogue of films. People who always wanted the bigger room that their siblings nabbed. People who feel that The Nutcracker has changed their outlook on life. People who are wondering how you can get to cookies and bears in the same conversation.

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