Arminzerella's Reviews > Suicide Notes

Suicide Notes by Michael Thomas Ford
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** spoiler alert ** Jeff (15) wakes up in a psychiatric ward after trying to commit suicide by slitting his wrists. He feels surprisingly good for someone in his condition - until they take him off the happy pills. Jeff is initially irritated to find himself still among the living, and he’s also uncooperative, moody, silent, and angry. He tells his therapist (Dr. ‘Cat Poop’) that he’s fine over and over again, but it doesn’t change the fact that he’s committed to completing the 45 day program. Slowly the story of what led Jeff to his act of desperation comes out. Everyone thinks it’s because of Allie, his best friend – that he was sad when she stopped spending time with him and hurt when she chose her new boyfriend over Jeff. That’s not quite what happened, but Jeff is ok letting people think that for the time being - until he’s caught with his pants down (literally) and another patient in his room. As he tries to make up a story to explain what happened, the truth comes out.

I had no idea that this story was about a guy for at least the first couple chapters. I was sure it was an uncooperative girl who’d slit her wrists (because these sorts of stories are always about girls trying to kill themselves and winding up in loony bins). So I was surprised when *she* turned out to be a *he*. This wasn’t immediately obvious. And I probably should have recognized that Jeff was gay, because that’s what he is, and that’s what gets him into trouble with Allie (and her boyfriend, Burke) – he falls in love with her man. But he loses Allie’s friendship when he doesn’t tell her - she thinks he’s been lying to her all this time. She doesn’t realize that Jeff himself isn’t completely sure what’s going on – he only knows how he feels about Burke and doesn’t realize or think that those emotions make him homosexual. Maybe that’s a healthier attitude than trying to find a convenient box for one’s sexuality – “I love whom I love.” Looking back, there are all kinds of hints/foreshadowing that this is how things are going to go. But even after what happens with Rankin, I still found myself somewhat surprised when Jeff reveals that he was in love with Burke.

This was a decent story, and it does some things very well. I particularly liked Jeff’s struggle within himself as to how much he was going to tell his parents (and other people) about his sexuality – his frustration that being gay means you *have* to tell people (whereas if you’re straight people just assume things about you and you never actually have to have the uncomfortable conversations) is so right. I’ve always looked at this from the other side, thinking “why is it that gay people feel that they have to make such a big deal about their sexuality – so much so that everything else about them is eclipsed?” I guess because there are enough people out there that can’t/don’t/won’t accept them for who they are. Being able to love someone without caring what their gender or gender identity is should be every person’s right – and shouldn’t make you good or bad or right or wrong.
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