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This story is written as a diary, with each chapter being one day in fifteen year old Jeff's 45 day hospitalization after a failed suicide attempt. The subject is serious, but Jeff is a great narrator: funny, sarcastic, and insightful. Youth suicide is an important problem in the US (third leading cause of death among people ages 15-19) and this book provides useful information while at the same time telling a good story. Resources for depression and suicide are included in an afterword. This book works well in audio format because the chapters are very short (5-10 minutes each) and can be listened to easily in short bursts. Recommended.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
After an attempted suicide, Jeff wakes up in a psychiatric ward where he is forced to spend the next 45 days. He doesn’t want to and he’s determined not to cooperate, but his stay isn’t optional and his parents refuse to take him home. Finding their son almost bloodless in a bathtub isn’t something they particularly want to relive, and if the psych ward is what it takes to keep him alive, that’s where he’ll stay for as long as it takes.
Jeff handles his situation with lots of denial wrapped in good humor. He absolutely refuses to acknowledge that he has a problem and he is determined not to talk about his reasons for cutting his wrists open. According to him, his parents and the doctor made a mistake and he shouldn’t be locked up with the crazies.
Jeff’s story is heartwarming and poignant, but it’s also simple and laugh-out-loud funny. This diary-like narrative is one of the most honest things I’ve ever read. There are no heroes, no villains, no Big Drama whatsoever. It’s just a story about a boy that could easily be your next door neighbor or your second cousin. It’s not unusual at all and that’s what makes it so special.
Jeff’s character was truly done brilliantly. He is easily relatable, even (or especially) when he’s being obnoxious to his doctors and his fellow patience. Avoidance is his way to handle everything, but every now and again, a real feeling shines trough, be it anger at his parents for daring to save his life, resentment towards his doctors and nurses and the complete and utter hopelessness he feels about his situation.
I want to make this very clear: Suicide Notes is a book that deals with serious issues, but it’s rarely a sad read and it’s never angsty. Jeff’s sarcastic voice determines the overall tone, which is more funny than anything else. Yet Ford still manages to bring his point across by making every one of Jeff’s jokes louder and more touching than any sorrowful moment could possibly be.
I’ve tried this in both formats and while I generally prefer audio, in this case I’d strongly recommend the printed word. Although he’s a good narrator, Joe Caron didn’t succeed in capturing Jeff’s unique voice and most of Jeff’s sarcastic remarks somehow fell flat in the narrator’s interpretation.
If I had my way (but really, I never do), every thirteen-year-old on the planet would have to read three books: Brooklyn, Burning by Steve Brezenoff, Gone, Gone, Gone by Hannah Moskowitz and Suicide Notes by Michael Thomas Ford. These three books promote understanding and tolerance in such a quiet, unobtrusive way, and even though we’re seeing more and more diversity, these are the three that always stay with me.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
It made me think, feel, love and cry.
Honestly an awesome book! Thank you, Author
Where does Suicide Notes rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?
Suicide notes is one of my favourite Audible books. It's another coming of age book but nevertheless has an appeal to all ages. It tackles the devastating effects of teenage suicide and in particularly the feelings of hopelessness and helplessness that drives this.
What was one of the most memorable moments of Suicide Notes?
The book is set out like a diary, where our young troubled teen logs each days activity in a care facility. As such it's relatively easy to create memories that stick with the reader. I have to say I think my favourite moment is right at the start where he's insistent that he's not crazy.
What does Joe Caron bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?
The narration of this story is very good. What I most enjoyed in the narration is how Joe Caron manages to convey excitement. Such moments are really enjoyable to listen to.
Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
My feelings towards this book are indifferent. It tackles a very dark subject matter in a humorous and enjoyable way. In fact I can guarantee you will chuckle. It's certainly no tear jerker, (compared to The Fault In Our Stars anyway), but has delicate scenes that are wonderfully written.