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Suicide Notes Paperback – September 7, 2010

4.5 out of 5 stars 53 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 9 Up—Jeff, the irreverent, sarcastic, and utterly terrified 15-year-old narrator, wakes up on New Year's Day in a psych ward with bandages around his wrists. He copes with his therapy by using extreme denial and avoidance, attempting to one-up his therapist, Dr. Katzrupus, or Cat Poop, with flippant, deflective wordplay and outrageous stories of faux Sugar Plum Fairy fantasies. Jeff spends the rest of his time with the other teens, including suicidal Sadie the sociopath and the gay teen in jock's clothing, Rankin. While Sadie encourages Jeff's resentment toward the program, it is Rankin's actions that force Jeff to come to terms with his suicide attempt and his own sexuality. This is a story of warped self-perception, of the lies that people tell themselves so they never have to face the truth. Ford is most successful in his withholding of Jeff's secret, a disclosure not made until the last third of the book. While the book could be named Gay Boy, Interrupted due to many similarities to Susanna Kaysen's characters and depictions of the mental-health community, Jeff's wit and self-discovery are refreshing, poignant, and, at times, laugh-out-loud funny. Readers will relate to Jeff as a teen bumbling through horrible embarrassment and the shame that follows, and they will be inspired by his eventual integrity and grace.—Kat Redniss, Brownell Library, Essex Junction, VT
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

After Jeff, 15, wakes up in a psychiatric ward, he won’t talk about why he slit his wrists. He lies to the therapist (whom he names “Cat Poop”) and refuses to relate to the other teens in group therapy. He feels that he is not nutty like them, his parents are fine, nothing is bothering him, and he is “normal”; he just had one bad day. The therapy talk sometimes gets to be too much, but there is rising tension in Jeff's fast, irreverent, frank, first-person narrative: what is he holding back? He bonds with another patient, Sadie, and tells her about his best friend, Allie, and about Allie’s cute boyfriend. When Jeff sees a jock masturbating in the shower, he feels attraction that is returned, and the two teens have sex. Long before Jeff confronts the truth, readers will realize that he is gay, and his denial is part of the humor and sadness many readers will recognize. Grades 10-12. --Hazel Rochman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen; Reprint edition (September 7, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060737573
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060737573
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #101,333 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
At fifteen, Jeff suffers from the same teen angst and insecurities as many others his age, unsure about some of his feelings and insecure about his sexuality. In his case, he kept these emotions bottled up until he attempted suicide, which resulted in his being assigned to forty-five days in a small adolescent psychiatric treatment facility, the setting for this book. Initially, Jeff avoids dealing with his own issues, and concentrates on his curiosity about his four fellow patients, with whom he must interact on a daily basis as part of his therapy. Then there are the daily group and private sessions with Dr. Katzrupus, not-so-affectionately referred to as "Cat Poop" by his young charges, who has little success initially in getting Jeff to speak about his feelings or why he tried to take his life. The forty-five days starts off seeming like an eternity, but, by the time it is all over, Jeff is stronger, more self-assured, but still somewhat insecure about returning to his "real life" on the outside.

Michael Thomas Ford manages to create a well-written teen self-help book in a story format that will entertain his readers, through characters and feelings with whom they can identify. Family dynamics are shown in a realistic and unapologetic style, and the book is careful not to get heavy-handed or preachy. Excellent read for young people dealing with family, social or coming-out issues. Five blue pills out of five.
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Format: Hardcover
This book was wonderful. I have a best friend who cuts and I picked it up thinking it might be a good read and maybe help me understand a thing or two... without all the text book mumbo jumbo. If I'd had the time I would have easily finished it in one sitting. I was laughing, gasping, squeaking with joy and surprise and anger, and coming so close to crying on many occations.
The main character, Jeff, reminded me so much of my friend. When people questioned her she threw up defensive walls and became sarcastic, not wanting anyone to be helped. In a way it helped me see some reasons as to why she did what she did.
I loved every second of every page and wished that I could just keep reading about him after I finished the final page. I've reccomended it to all my friends who are willing to want to think consider the concepts faced in this book.
In short, it's a wonderful read that I highly reccomend!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I started reading this novel yesterday and I finished it yesterday. That usually means I loved the novel and that is true in this case. Suicide Notes is an easy and entertaining read. It's a mix of all kinds of different things: it's funny, sad, entertaining, and maybe a little disturbing. But I think it paints a picture of troubled youth that is probably more realistic than not.

As far as the issue of suicide goes, it's a very complex issue. A lot of people think about it in terms of black and white, but I think it's the very definition of gray. There are those who try to commit suicide out of momentary despair (like Jeff, the main character in the book), but there are also those who have severe depression, and then there are those that choose to end their lives for rational reasons. People who are terminally ill, people who feel that they've lived a good life and are ready to die, and then there are those who are just disillusioned with life (nothing brings any joy to them no matter how hard they try, so why stick around?).

This novel did not deal with the complex issue of suicide in our society, but instead it focused on one teen's personal experience. Jeff's experience is not a universal example of why people try to kill themselves, but within the context of the novel, I think that's a good thing. While to some of us the reason for why he attempted suicide might seem a bit lukewarm, it is a fact that it does happen, especially among the teen population.

Overall, I liked this novel. It was the story of one teen, and the whole book was from his point-of-view. Having said that, I also liked learning about some of the other characters that were in the psych ward with Jeff. I found Sadie to be an especially interesting character, and I wonder what kind of novel would this be if she had been the main character.

All in all, a pretty good read. Recommended.
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Format: Paperback
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.
Highly recommended.
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