Genre: Fiction, YA, Contemporary, Mental Illness
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.
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 of us.
*Self harm trigger warning*
Contrary to how the title of this book makes it sound this book isn’t actually that depressing. I thought it was going to be all about a kid moaning about how bad his life is and has decided to write a suicide note before killing himself. Harsh I know but that’s how the title sounds.
Instead we meet Jeff as he wakes up in a psychiatric hospital after cutting his wrists. He believes he shouldn’t be there and that everyone else is crazy, however he soon realises that the people he has to live with aren’t actually that bad.
For me this book was a really fast read, although it isn’t packed full of drama and it isn’t a really big mystery why Jeff did it, the plot just progresses at a really fast pace with short chapters so you can fly through it. As a bit of a spoiler (it is given away under genres on Goodreads so kind of a giveaway) but there’s a LGBTQ element to this book. This is a part of the book I actually really liked though as the character that this describes isn’t actually sure of their sexuality and therefore the book assesses how to know if you are gay or not. Most characters in books with LGBTQ elements just suddenly know they are gay however this isn’t always the case, sometimes it is trying to figure out what you like first and it may not be as obvious as you would think.
I liked that the character became more confident with their sexuality and explored what it is to be gay before just announcing it to everyone like a lot of other books do, most people aren’t instantly confident with knowing their sexualities and do need time to assess how they are feeling so I really liked this part of the book.
I do feel as though this book should come with trigger warnings as the main character is in a psychiatric hospital so of course the other patients there do have issues. If you feel you may be affected by anything then please don’t read this book unless you are 100% comfortable.
I really liked how Jeff didn’t suddenly realise that he’d made a mistake, or suddenly realising how great his life was, instead it took time and counselling to ensure that he understood how important his life was. Again most books don’t assess this and if a character does try and commit suicide it is normally glossed over or the character instantly regrets it and never even considers it again, in reality it isn’t that simple and may take time.
Overall I really enjoyed this book as it went into depth with mental illness while still maintaining a slighter funny side to keep it light. There were some parts where I think it was a little childish but you have to remember the main character is a 15 year old so I kind of allowed that.
Summing up: Detailed account of mental illness
At the end of this book there are some numbers you can call if you are feeling suicidal or if you need help however if you aren’t confident with talking to someone over the phone I just wanted to let you know of an online website I volunteer for called 7cups on this website you are completely anonymous and all messages are sent via an online chat (1-1) with a trained listener. You can go on the website for absolutely any problem not just self harm and again everything is completely confidential, it just might be more comfortable for people who don’t like phoning someone but still want help 🙂