Suicide Notes by Michael Thomas Ford
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
What struck me most about this book - and unsettled me, to be honest - is the brutality of it, sugarcoated by Jeff's self-deprecating irony, witticism and sarcastic outlook on adolescence. He is one of those characters I particularly appreciate in teen lit for their no-nonsense attitude, for just telling things how they are. An honest, non-emo voice.
The themes approached in this book are not light, despite seemingly narrated in a light-hearted way: teen suicide, familial dysfunctions, personal identity. The story starts with Jeff waking up in the psych ward of an hospital, after having attempted suicide. He's supposed to spend 6 weeks being treated there and to understand the reasons why he hurt himself.
Despite being told in 1st person POV, Jeff is in self-denial and does not want to acknowledge the origin of his problems or what really happened that led to him taking such a definitive and desperate action. So we, the readers, are completely left in the dark about pretty much everything that took place before him being hospitalized.
But slowly, as Jeff gradually comes around and faces the bitter consequences of what he's done, we discover bits and pieces of the puzzle that eventually will give him, and consequently us, realization of his real problem. I know this sounds really vague but it's better to discover Jeff's motives by reading this book. I really liked this narrative strategy, it spurs the reader to go on keeping the interest high and makes the discoveries all the more dramatic.
Aside from the heavy theme of the book, be warned that there are some sex scenes which put this book in the more adult section of the YA genre. Pretty graphic and raw, too. Yet, I wish this book were read by all teens and I hope by the time my kids will grow up I will still remember this book, so that I can give it to them to read.
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