Between the Lines

Everyone can read, but really understanding a book and the story it represents is entirely different. It's important to adopt different perspectives. Here, I offer you mine.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Suicide Notes by Michael Thomas Ford

Suicide Notes
Michael Thomas Ford
295 Pages

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 a us.”

Postive: 1. Captivating. I honestly don’t even know what to say about this book quite yet. Partially because I read it really quickly. Not because it’s a short book, but because I couldn’t stop. I think I finished it in about three days total. I just had to know what happened next. The main character’s witty sarcasm and stubborn belief that he didn’t belong in a psychiatric ward really drew me in. 2. Unexpected storyline. When I first picked up the book, I was expecting some big, epic story of someone’s tragic life and hope to escape it all. What I got instead was the aftermath. This book kind of worked backwards, and it was pleasantly surprising. I was intrigued by the main character’s suicide attempt, which was presented as the rising action instead of the climax or ending event. Instead of learning the outcome of a series of events, we learn about the events that led to the outcome. In the end, when readers discover his true reason for trying to commit suicide, it’s scary to think that things like that happen every day. It really opened my eyes. 3. Theme. To me, it wasn’t really about the Jeff’s suicide at all. It was more about him growing up. I found it interesting that the main character was also the narrator, because he was kind of unreliable. He didn’t seem capable of accepting the harsh reality of what had happened yet. As the story goes on, he grows to understand and tries to make things right.

Negative: 1. The humor. Sure, some parts of the book were clever and witty. I did enjoy Jeff’s sarcastic and stubborn attitude. At times, though, it kind of felt like the author was trying a bit too hard to be funny in a way that would appeal to teenagers. Or perhaps that’s just not the kind of humor I myself enjoy. Either way, I found the author’s comedic attempts to not fit my style of humor. Of course, it might be different to other people. 2. Surprise sexual content. Spoiler alert! The story involves Jeff’s sexual activity with both a girl and a guy. I mean, I’m not against it. Some readers would turn away from extremely graphic scenes of homosexual intercourse—or any intercourse at all—but sometimes such a scene is necessary to piece a story together. I understand that it was definitely needed in this story, seeing as how a lot of it was Jeff identifying his sexual preferences. However, it kind of left me feeling uneasy. That was the last thing I expected of this book, and I was really shocked, especially since the sex scenes were so… detailed. I didn’t understand why it was even included in the story and what significance it had. Still, I read on, and in the end it turned out to be vital. When I finished the book and realized what it was really about, I understood the meaning of it.

Overall: I think the book was okay. It’s a good read to pass the time, and it presented some controversial ideas that are very interesting to think about. I kind of like how the book ended up being completely different from what I had expected it to be. I found it interesting how the story as well as the main character started off light and humorous but gradually became a bit more dark and serious.

Rating: One Thumb Up!


  1. Looking forward to more of your reviews! I love how well you did this one, even though it wasn't a favorite. Way to rock it. :0)

  2. Congrats on joining the blogosphere! I love reading book reviews, and you've done yours quite well!