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Suicide Notes
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Suicide Notes

4.3 220
by Michael Thomas Ford

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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. Never mind the bandages on his wrists, clearly this is all a huge mistake. Jeff is perfectly fine, perfectly normal—not like the other kids in the hospital with him. They’ve got problems. But a funny thing happens as


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. Never mind the bandages on his wrists, clearly this is all a huge mistake. Jeff is perfectly fine, perfectly normal—not like the other kids in the hospital with him. They’ve got problems. But a funny thing happens as Jeff’s forty-five-day sentence drags on: the crazies start to seem less crazy. . . .

Compelling, witty, and refreshingly real, Suicide Notes is a darkly comic novel that examines that fuzzy line between “normal” and the rest of us.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Teens in a psych ward populate a novel that overcomes a predictable beginning to make a powerful emotional impact. Regaining consciousness after an aborted suicide attempt, the 15-year-old narrator thinks his parents have "overreacted" by placing him in a 45-day program in the "nuthouse" ("you know, where they keep the people who have sixteen imaginary friends living in their heads"). Readers might need patience as Jeff, the protagonist, goes through a period of denial, delivering sarcastic answers to his shrink, Dr. Katzrupus (Jeff refers to him as "Cat Poop") and holding himself aloof from the four other patients. But as Jeff begins to form relationships with these teens, Ford's (Alec Baldwin Doesn't Love Me) own strengths emerge: his characterizations run deep, and without too much contrivance the teens' interactions slowly dislodge clues about what triggered Jeff's suicide attempt. That Jeff's recovery depends on realizing and accepting that he's gay isn't explicit until the novel is almost over, that this novel goes beyond gay issues to address broader questions of identity is clear all along. Ages 14-up. (Oct.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Children's Literature - Julia Wang
Fifteen-year-old Jeff wakes up in the hospital to find that his parents have put him into a 45-day program in the psychiatric ward. He knows that he does not belong with the other four "crazy" children that are there, but he has no choice but to tough it out. As he is weaned off the medical drugs, he also becomes more accustomed to life in the ward. The children in the ward come and go. When they go they have either been deemed healed, or are sent into more permanent psychiatric care. Jeff sees the psychiatrist Dr. Katzrupus (Cat Poop) every day, toward whom he is sarcastic and rebellious. He does connect with another patient called Sadie, who has been through the program before. One time he tries to have sex with her but cannot. Then, Rankin comes into the program. He and Jeff explore sexually with each other, and when Cat Poop finally makes a breakthrough with Jeff, Jeff admits that with Sadie it did not feel right, but with Rankin, it did. Not that Jeff liked Rankin, but that Rankin was a guy. Jeff admits to himself that he is gay. He learns to accept who he is, and he is heading back into the world where he will be truthful with himself and with others. Ford spins a seductive tale. He deals with feelings of isolation, rejection, worthlessness, confusion, and desire to which not just teenagers but adults relate. This is Young Adult fiction at its best. Reviewer: Julia Wang
KLIATT - Ashleigh Larsen
It's New Year's Day, and 15-year-old Jeff wakes up to find that he's in the psychiatric ward of the hospital. Even with bandages on his wrists, Jeff knows this must all be a misunderstanding. He's not insane. He's not crazy like the other kids. Forced to serve his 45-day sentence in this wing of the hospital, Jeff tries to make the best of it by acting tough, sarcastically fresh, and better than the other teens. But as he continues to live there, something unexpected transforms Jeff and he starts seeing the crazies as actual people. Slowly, he opens himself up to the reasons he tried to kill himself—and what he finds is the last thing he expects. Jeff's journey is wittily unique, balancing a fresh voice and a uniquely realistic character with comedy and seriousness. YAs who are struggling to find themselves amid the pressures of teenage life can relate to Jeff's experiences. Some readers may turn away from several extremely graphic sexual scenes of a homosexual relationship. Admitting that he is gay is a difficult internal battle Jeff struggles through. Reviewer: Ashleigh Larsen
School Library Journal

Gr 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

Kirkus Reviews

Awakening in a psychiatric ward with gauze on his stitched-up wrists, 15-year-old Jeff tries to convince both his doctors and his parents that the cuts were just a bored teenage mistake. As other teens come and go from the ward, Jeff finds himself connecting with them in unexpected ways while confronting his own unresolved turmoil. More Kaysan (Girl, Interrupted, 1993) than Kesey, Ford's introspective tale follows a fairly typical coming-out process, though with additional angst. Astute readers will identify Jeff's secret long before his first-person, present-tense narration reveals it, but the skillfully written secondary characters, especially fellow patient Sadie, hold this work above typical gay-teen-suicide dramas. Sadie's morbid adaptation of "And then there were none" will appeal to those with dark humor and prevents the narrative tone from lecturing. Though offering nothing new or insightful, Jeff's voice shows true development during his hospitalization. Unlike James Lecesne's Absolute Brightness (2008), this sometimes melodramatic story is redeemed by creative back stories and touching relationships. (Fiction. YA)

Brent Hartinger
“Like the very best teen novels, Suicide Notes is both classic and edgy, timeless and provocative.”
Scott Heim
“This book is equal parts hilarious, bittersweet, and strange. You will love every page of it.”
Ellen Hopkins
Praise for Suicide Notes: “With a sprinkling of dark humor and a full measure of humanness, Suicide Notes is quirky, surprising, and a riveting read.”
“Jeff’s journey is wittily unique, balancing a fresh voice and a uniquely realistic character with comedy and seriousness.”

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 7.20(h) x 1.10(d)
HL670L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Suicide Notes

Chapter One

Day 01

I read somewhere that when astronauts come back to Earth after floating around in space they get sick to their stomachs because the air here smells like rotting meat to them. The rest of us don't notice the stink because we breathe it every day and to us it smells normal, but really the air is filled with all kinds of pollutants and chemicals and junk that we put into it. Then we spray other crap around to try and make it smell better, like the whole planet is someone's old car and we've hung this big pine-scented air freshener from the rearview mirror.

I feel like those astronauts right now. For a while I was floating around in space breathing crystal-pure oxygen and talking to the Man in the Moon. Then suddenly everything changed and I was falling through the stars. I used to wonder what it would be like to be a meteor. Now I know. You fall and fall and fall, and then you're surrounded by clouds and your whole body tingles as it starts to burn up from the entry into the atmosphere. But you're falling so fast that it burns only for a second, and then the ocean comes rushing up at you and you laugh and laugh, until the water closes over your head and you're sinking. Then you know you're safe—you've survived the fall—and as you come back to the surface you blow millions of bubbles into the blue-green water.

Only then your head breaks through the waves and you suck in great breaths of stinking air and you want to die, like babies when they come out of their mothers and find out that they should have stayed inside where they were safe. That's where I am now, floating in the ocean like apiece of space junk and trying not to throw up every time I breathe.

I'm not really in the ocean, though. I'm in the hospital. They say they brought me here last night, but I was totally out of it and don't remember anything. Actually, what I heard someone say was that I was kind of dead. Pretty close to dead, anyway.

I really do think I was flying around in space, though. At least for a little while. I remember thinking that I'd finally find out whether anyone lives on Mars or not. Then it was like someone grabbed me by the foot and yanked me down, back toward Earth. I remember screaming that I didn't want to go, but since you can't make noise in space, my voice was just kind of eaten up.

Now that I know where I am, I'm not so sure I wouldn't be better off just being dead.

And maybe I am dead. I mean, it does kind of feel like Hell around here. I'm in this room with people checking in on me every five seconds. And by people I mean nurses, and in particular Nurse Goody. Can you believe that? Her name is actually Nurse Goody. And she is, too. Good, I mean. She's always smiling and asking me if she can get me anything. It's really annoying, because all I want is to be left alone, and that's the last thing they seem to do here. So many people run in and out of this room, I feel like a tourist attraction. I bet Nurse Goody is standing outside the door selling tickets, like those guys at carnivals who try to get people to pay to see the freak show. Barkers, I think they're called. That's what Nurse Goody is, a barker. She stands outside my door and barks.

But it's not like there's anything interesting in here. No television. No roommate (which actually, now that I think about it, is probably a good thing). Not even any magazines or books. Just me in bed looking out the window, which is the kind with wire running through the glass so you can't break it and jump out. The paint around the windows is all chipped, like maybe someone who was in here before me tried to break the window, then decided to claw their way out instead.

Now that I look at it, the whole room is kind of old-looking. The walls are this dirty white color, and there are some cracks in the plaster, and a weird brown spot on the ceiling that looks like a face. The Devil's face, maybe. Because, like I said, I think I might be in Hell. It would make sense that he would be watching me. Him and Nurse Goody are watching me. Good and Evil.

That's funny. Good and Evil. Maybe I'm not in Hell. Maybe I'm in that in-between place. What do they call it? Limbo. Where all the dead people go who don't have a "go directly to Heaven or Hell" card. Dead babies go there, too, I think. People no one knows what to do with, and dead babies. My kind of people.

Maybe I'm in Limbo, and the Devil and Goody are fighting over me. Or waiting for me to make up my mind where I want to go. What would I pick, Heaven or Hell? That's a good question. Seriously, I think I would pick Hell. The people there would probably be more interesting.

Come to think of it, it really is hot as Hell in here. There's a radiator under the window, the big old metal kind that shakes whenever water goes through it. I guess it's been working overtime. I swear, this place must be eleventy years old. It's like any minute now the whole building is going to fall apart. At least then I wouldn't be here.

It's raining, and the only thing I can see out the window is part of a forest. Since it's winter, though, it looks less like a forest and more like a bunch of skeletons holding their hands up to the sky. The rain is running down the glass, making it look like the skeletons are under water. Drowning. Although if they're skeletons, wouldn't they already be dead? So maybe they're just swimming. Anyway, the skeleton trees are kind of freaking me out. It's looking more and more like this really is Hell. Maybe I should tell Goody she's in the wrong place.

Suicide Notes. Copyright © by Michael Ford. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

What People are Saying About This

Scott Heim
“This book is equal parts hilarious, bittersweet, and strange. You will love every page of it.”
Brent Hartinger
“Like the very best teen novels, Suicide Notes is both classic and edgy, timeless and provocative.”

Meet the Author

Michael Thomas Ford is the author of the teen novel Suicide Notes as well as several essay collections and adult novels, including Jane Bites Back. He lives in San Francisco with his partner and their five dogs.

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Suicide Notes 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 220 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Jeff is fifteen years old, from a good family, and he's just woken up in the psychiatric ward of the hospital. Over the next month and a half he will take part in group therapy, individual counseling, and even those excruciating sessions with his family. And through all of this, everyone will realize that he didn't really mean to kill himself. Right? It was just a misunderstanding. His group therapy sessions aren't his favorite; he's only going so that everyone can see how sane he really is. There are four of "them" in his group: Alice, who lit her mom's boyfriend on fire; Juliet, who seems to have no direct relationship with reality; Sadie, who tried to drown herself; and Bone, who primarily just wants the world to know that he doesn't know Juliet and is not her boyfriend. Jeff tries to make it clear that he is only there because of a misunderstanding. But, it's hard to misunderstand the bandages on his wrists. Over the next 45 days, Jeff's story will unfold and new pages will be added. Was it really a girl that caused this whole "misunderstanding?" Allie has been his best friend, but was she more than that? Was he jealous of her new boyfriend or did she reject his advances? And now he has new friendships forming while he's in the hospital, and each of those will test his ability to deal with new pressures and unexpected situations. And may lead him closer to confronting the events that led up to his hospitalization.
Meggie33 More than 1 year ago
Good book with a really great message. It's a quick and easy read (Only 180something pages). I would recommend this book to kids in high school. When I first started reading it, I wasn't too sympathetic to Jeff, the main charted, because he is such a smartass. But as I continued to read, I really got attached to him and enjoyed watching his story unfold. It really makes you think about the issues other people might be going through in their lives. Things aren't always as bad as they seem.
kassie dee More than 1 year ago
this is honesly one of the best books i have ever read! I highly recomment this book... but mostly to teenagers. This book has a lot of meaning!
ZackaryStorm More than 1 year ago
I never review books. Ever. And I really felt compelled to review this one. The book is absolutely amazing. As a psych patient in remission, this story really hits near spot on with how my feelings were. And, honestly I really feel like a Jeff. This book starts a little slow, but keep riding! I couldn't put it down from Day 18 on... This book seems to be geared toward a MATURE TEEN AUDIENCE. There is some sexual references and drug references that I would keep away from anyone under 14 I guess? This story truly moved me to the point where I literally felt Jeff's pain psychosomatically to the point where I was almost scared! All in all, this is a great read for anyone interested in the subject matter (Psych). Would recommend 100% every time!!
Madi Parker More than 1 year ago
i really liked this book alot! and i could totally relate. i recomend it to anyome who loves humor. this book made me laugh threw out the book. but i wish it was longer!!!!!
hawkcloud3 More than 1 year ago
i got this book a few weeks ago, with some other books, and it was the last out of the 3 i decided to read. i wish i hadnt. this book is realistic and great, i couldnt put it down. even though jeff is in a psychiatric ward, many of us will find that we are alike him and some of the other kids in the books. it was very relate-able for me. not the twist at the end, but some other things. i wouldnt recommend it for someone under the age of at least 14. there are some, um, parts of the book kind of mature. but none the less, great book. i absolutely would read this.
Tori Lee More than 1 year ago
Jeff finds himself in a psychiatric hospital and in denial. He says his suicide attempt is no big deal. Stupid. But as he continues his 45 day program he starts to see that what he feels is REAL and okay. He starts to realize that these 'nutjobs' couod be some of the most normal people he'd ever met. The book starts off almost OFFENSIVE but ends in a way that is refreshing and amazing. Give it a try. I recomend it.
NBGIRL2012 More than 1 year ago
This book made me laugh all the way through however it really sends a message as well. There is also a nice twist that I never saw coming.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you think about comiting suicide its probley becase you hate your life and think the world would be better without you i think about doing it all the time because i think the world dosent need me becase it doesnt if you are thinking about comiting suicide first stop and think how would this effect people it stops me everytime and i am still young just everyone remember have hope Hold On Pain Ends hope Just stop and think how it would have an effect on people around you trust me it will effect them there are 7 billion people in this world and you were made to change one if there lives
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am so, so incredibly sorry. I know what its likw to lose one of ur bffs. It hurts a ton. It feels like the pain will never go away. You often feel likw its ur fault. If only i had been there, if only i had known, if only i had helped. Its not ur fault. People do suicide for many difderent reason. It is wrong to blame urself. Be hapoy for those you lost. They are now in a better place, and someday, you will meet them again, and spend eternity in happiness with the. I will pray for you all. <br> Sincerely, <br> AGGP
FragileHeartbeat More than 1 year ago
I found this book to be really funny. The names Jeff came up with are hilarious. If anybody is looking for a laugh, I recommend this book! 
yum More than 1 year ago
Suicide Notes describes a fifteen year old named Jeff who tried to commit suicide and was placed in the psych ward in a hospital. It accounts his time there learning about himself through a comical persona. Jeff is a main character that any reader can relate to, and although his personal problems are serious, he tries to keep putting his thoughts off as being normal. The other characters in the novel each hold their own very interesting personalities, and Jeff tells about his relationships with each of them. He tries to tell his shrink that theres nothing wrong with him, and constantly cracks jokes to make himself feel better about his surroundings. Eventually, Jeff understands what drove him to try to commit suicide, and the novel takes an interesting twist. A fun and exciting read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i just finished reading this book. Its amazing. It had the biggest twist at the end... :) the book was simply great. As a teen, I loved it. it was so funny. I finished the book in 1 day!! I couldnt put it down i dont think you would want to either. I didn't want it to end. I started reading slower and drinking the words. I lend it to my friends and they loved it! the book is great and i definitly recommend getting it.
Anonymous 3 months ago
It was an amazing book very serious but funny
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She struggled to the top of the cliff and peered over it. It had to be a two hundred foot drop. Perfect. She pulled off her jacket. Then her shoes. She rolled up her pant legs. She shivered and looked down at her arms. Sbe flinched. Angry red scars looked back at her. Thin white scars were on her calves. She traced one of the scars on her wrist absently. Maybe this time she would succeed. There wasn't any possible way they could save her this time. She had tried most of them. When she had overdosed they pumped her stomach. When she slit her wrists they had stitched her up. But innocent roock climbing hadn't bothered them. They would regret allowing it soon enough. Reaching into her pocket she withdrew a razor. "One last time" she told the wind "This is the last time. Whose here to stop me? No one. No one can save me now. So I bid you goodbye and goodnight." She jerked the razor across her wrist. She barely felt it. She pulled a note out of her pocket. There was no water at the bottom so unlike her it should survive. She looked around. A pair of birds flew over her. Walking to the edge of the cliff she held out her arms. "Geronimo." She whispered. Then she fell. Hope you enjoyed! Next res for a different version my teacher made me write.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I get kind of lost in the start of it when he's in the "hospital" and starts talking about falling like a metor and landing in the ocean. Other then that i loved it. ^_^ <3
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book was such a great read and deals not just with suicide and self-harms but sexuality as well.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked it, it was very real and i relatef to Jeff and Sadie.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Will someone lend me this book? It sounds sooo good...
Angelb4u77 More than 1 year ago
This book felt like an authentic trip to the mental hospital, from the shrink answering a question with a question to the little procedural eccentricities found only in mental wards.  Jeff, our patient/narrator, tried to kill himself and wakes up committed.  True to adolescent form he is sarcastic and in denial and it takes him most of his 45 day stay before he admits to himself&mdash;or the reader&mdash;why he tried to take his own life.  And, boy, is it a twist.   And maybe that&rsquo;s why I liked but didn&rsquo;t love this book.  It takes so long for Jeff&rsquo;s real issue to come out that instead of losing myself in his witty narrative and the sub-stories (which, in fact were kind of cute, including midnight television sessions with another patient named Sadie) I just kept waiting for the big reveal.  I wanted him to hurry up and pinpoint the issue so I could watch him really work hard at resolving it.  Instead, Jeff&rsquo;s refusal to admit the truth started to feel a tiny bit gimmicky toward the end.    If you are having trouble finding your identity, if you need to know you are not the only confused and broken person in this world, this might be a helpful book for you.  If you are looking for a page turner, a real emotional thriller, look elsewhere.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I connected with it so much it was hilarios and it captured my attention for 36 hours straight. I couldnt put it down. This book is apsolutely fanominal
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You have to read it greate book