Suicide Notes by Michael Thomas Ford
Read on December 25, 2013 (in a car. on the way to Tagaytay)
I liked this. It’s a great example of teaching the reader to read objectively, since the narrator isn’t trustworthy for most of the book.
The book is told through the point of view of Jeff, a fifteen year old who wakes up in the psych ward after having tried to commit suicide on New Year’s Eve. He’s committed to undergo therapy in the ward for 45 days (each day is a chapter in the book). For the first few days, Jeff is an extremely unreliable narrator–he is in denial, he thinks everyone else is crazy, and–he’s hopped up on medication. As the days progress, we get to know more of the characters through Jeff’s biased thoughts but we can draw our own conclusions through his observations.
This book has an interesting set of characters that told you as much as it didn’t. None of their conditions were actually explained (save for two), and if they were mentioned, you still had to look deeper into the characters, the setting, to see if it was true and not just Jeff’s bias or the character lying.
As the days progress and Jeff stays in the ward, he slowly starts opening up to experiences in the ward which paves the way for him finally revealing why he attempted suicide.
For a book that has sensitive and dark themes, this book was actually humorous, but maintained the punches to the heart needed to handle a book of this topic.
[spoiler start]The book has an open ending in regards to the problem that brought Jeff to the psych ward. It fits though, because it’s not the kind of issue that can be resolved in just one sitting–it’s something he will have to deal with his whole life, step by step. [spoiler end]