So I had to do a novel study on Suicide Notes by Michael Thomas Ford. For many books people have posted various analysis that you can usually use to help you either remember certain things, or at least in my case with phrasing of things like their traits and or the theme. For this book however there is little out there on it so I thought I would post it so if somebody else in the future ends up doing it well this is there for them! Also if you are wanting to read this book you can have somebody else read this (So the book isn't spoiled for you) and have them tell you a bit about it! (That's what I did) I personally really liked the book and was genuinely surprised by how the novel turned out! I would recommend it to EVERYBODY- who is mature enough to handle it. There is some sensitive and more mature stuff in it so young people may not want to read it. Throughout I have numbers in brackets which represent page numbers of where I got some of the information.
Setting: Suicide Notes takes place in a psychiatric ward of a hospital. We know that it is in January just after the New Year as the main character Jeff tried to kill himself on New Year’s day at midnight. This book takes place is in some modern day times. I know this because Jeff says something about Paris Hilton and he mentions watching the ball drop in New York on TV. Besides his back stories the whole story takes places in various locations of the ward. Some of these include his personal room, his psychiatrist office, the main lounge and the bathroom. Jeff has a room to himself which he describes to be old looking and have dirty white coloured walls (4). He also mentions that the main lounge has a TV and couch and that it's an open space connected to where the nurse’s desk is. He doesn’t go into much detail about how the other locations look.
Protagonist: The protagonist in the story is Jeff. He is a fifteen year old who was committed to a psychiatric ward after trying to commit suicide. For a large majority of the book Jeff completely denies the fact that he is like the people in this ward, that he is crazy. This is made very clear when he says “There is four of them and one of me”(18). Jeff continuously brings up his dislike for the fact that when somebody tries to kill themselves and are saved everybody else expects them to be sorry and pretty much apologize. To him they got in the way of what he was trying to do, they should be the ones apologizing. Jeff also likes to avoid talking about this problems by jokes and sarcasm.
Antagonist: The antagonist in this story is Jeff's identity. Throughout the book Jeff fights his identity, fights who he really is. Specifically he is in denial about his sexuality. He had a bad encounter when he kissed his best friend’s boyfriend and was rejected and then called a fag. This shame of himself is what lead him to attempt suicide.
Sadie: Sadie is a friend that Jeff met in the psych ward. Early on Sadie and Jeff develop a good friendship. Jeff and Sadie are able to relate well to each other as she too tried to kill herself, but then was saved. She is the one patient who Jeff finds that he can confide in. He also finds some relief in Sadie's jokes and sarcasm. Throughout the book Sadie acts very strong and as if nothing could bother her. This though is false and it is after this truth comes out that Jeff really starts to open up about the everything he is hiding.
Dr. Katzrupus: He is the psychiatrist for the people in the hospital’s child psychiatric ward. Jeff gave him the nickname Cat Poop. Throughout the book the doctor works on slowly getting Jeff to open up about what really happened and why he did it. I know he must be a very patient man as he is consistently putting up with Jeff’s and the other patient’s various antics and jokes.
Juliet: Juliet is a schizophrenic girl who Jeff met in the psych ward. She is very happy most of the time, but overall she is just really emotional about everything. On quite a few activities Jeff and Juliet get paired up. Jeff doesn’t like her at the beginning and he thinks that she is one of the craziest ones there. Overtime though he grows to respect and even to some degree like her. Juliet has a unique ability in which she seems to easily understand people and a lot of what she says about Jeff is a foreshadowing of some of the things he is hiding.
Rankin: Jeff meets Rankin near the end portion of the novel. He had decided he wanted to quit football because there was too much pressure and his dad put him in the ward to see what was wrong with him. Rankin is very bold and he makes quite a few advances towards Jeff, though it is unclear whether he himself is also homosexual. Everything that Rankin does towards and with Jeff is what leads Jeff to really believe he is gay and makes it much harder for him to doubt the truth.
Person vs self:
There is a lot of conflict between Jeff and himself. These conflicts are really why he ended up doing what he did. Jeff has conflicts with his identity. This includes everything from his sexuality to the part of his identity that represents him being a survivor of attempted suicide. He doesn’t really want to admit that he attempted to kill himself and he continuously avoids it and denies that he is like any of the other patients in the ward. The main conflict that lead him to do this though is him being gay. He was confused about his sexuality and when he developed a crush on his bestfriend’s boyfriend and was rejected he just snapped. Jeff has a lot of trouble coming to terms with the fact he is homosexual and doesn’t openly admit it until the end of the book.
Person vs Person:
I would say there are two main different person versus person conflicts. The first would be with his best friend Allie who was part of the situation that led Jeff over the edge. In the book the author hints at her being the reason that he did it, but he makes it seem as if it was a fight between her boyfriend and Jeff over her. This though is not the case, but Allie does still play a role in the situation that lead him to slit his wrists that night. The second important conflict I would say is Jeff with his doctor. Throughout the book Jeff fights Dr. Katzrupus’s attempts to help him and he even counts points for certain things as if there is a score. For a while there are various conflicts between them while Jeff is still rejecting his many attempts to help him get to the root of his issues.
Plot: Jeff wakes up in a psychiatric ward of the hospital after attempting to kill himself by slitting his wrists. He was sentenced to a forty-five day program in order for them to try to get to the root of his problems and help him to recover. Jeff however does not believe that there is anything wrong and that it is a mistake putting him here. He sees the psych ward as a place for real crazy people and think that he is nothing like them. Overtime though he begins to realize that defining people as crazy isn't as black and white as he thought and that he might actually have more in common with them all than he thinks.
Climax: The climax starts with Rankin and Jeff fooling around in his room. They then hear a really loud scream and seconds later a nurse is in the room explaining it was just one of the other patients having a nightmare. She then says that Rankin should leave and that the doctor will talk to them tomorrow. The next day Jeff has his appointment with the doctor and they discuss what happened with Rankin as it is against the rules to have any sort of sexual contact with another patient. While discussing this the doctor breaks the news about what Martha's scream really was. His friend and fellow patient Sadie had been found dead. She had taken some pills and killed herself. Jeff broke down when he heard this news. This news caused him to give up hiding and lying and just tell the truth.
Resolution: Jeff now is open about what really happened that led him to try to kill himself. There are various things that contributed, most centred around the fact that he is gay. Jeff is able to accept what happened to him and be open about it with his family as well. This helps give his family get a true insight into why he did what he did. Soon after Jeff is released from the hospital and his healing process begins.Theme: The theme of the novel is the idea of self discovery and self acceptance. It’s about how we all pretend to be somebody we are not because we are scared people won’t like who we really are. However the truth is that anybody worth caring about should like you for who you are. This book also touches on the idea that sometimes it takes a crazy experience to really figure out who you are. An example of this in the book is when Jeff is defining who he thinks is and is not crazy. Throughout the book Jeff brings up how he isn't crazy like everybody else in here. Sadie however argues that they are actually the craziest as you must be insane to try to take your own life. As the book goes on Jeff begins to realize that though he has not burned anybody, nor is he schizophrenic, he really isn’t much different from everybody else. Towards the end of the book he begins to accept this fact and really see that the line between crazy and normal, strong and weak, isn’t as easy to see as he thought.