Suicide Watch by Kelley York
Age Group: Mature Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, LGBT
Release Date: December 20th 2012
Synopsis: 18-year-old Vincent Hazelwood has spent his entire life being shuffled from one foster home to the next. His grades sucked. Making friends? Out of the question thanks to his nervous breakdowns and unpredictable moods. Still, Vince thought when Maggie Atkins took him in, he might’ve finally found a place to get his life—and his issues—in order.
But then Maggie keels over from a heart attack. Vince is homeless, alone, and the inheritance money isn’t going to last long. A year ago, Vince watched a girl leap to her death off a bridge, and now he’s starting to think she had the right idea.
Vince stumbles across a website forum geared toward people considering suicide. There, he meets others with the same debate regarding the pros and cons of death: Casper, battling cancer, would rather off herself than slowly waste away. And there’s quiet, withdrawn Adam, who suspects if he died, his mom wouldn’t even notice.
As they gravitate toward each other, Vince searches for a reason to live while coping without Maggie’s guidance, coming to terms with Casper’s imminent death, and falling in love with a boy who doesn’t plan on sticking around.
Warning: There is sort of a spoiler in this review. I say sort of since the synopsis makes it quite obvious it will happen.
When I finished reading Hushed by Kelley York, I knew that I absolutely needed to read another one of her works. Then came the day where I found Suicide Watch and bought it and eventually read it. And wow. This author has done it again. In just over two hundred pages, Kelley York made me love her characters, cry for them, and then feel hopeful for them and their futures.
Vincent Hazelwood’s life wasn’t exactly a nice one. Being sent to one foster home after the next, failing to make friends because of his break downs and changing moods. Until he was adopted by Maggie, a strong lady who was determined to help Vincent get his life together. She was his reason to try hard.
And then, on the day of Vincent’s graduation, Maggie dies of a heart attack, leaving Vincent completely alone. Vincent then starts to sink back into himself, reflecting on the day he witnessed a girl throw herself off a bridge and wondering if she was right to do that. During this time, Vincent comes across Suicide Watch, a pro-suicide forum and meets two people through it: Casper, a girl who wants to kill herself before the cancer inside her does, and Adam, a quiet boy who believes his mother wouldn’t notice if he died. These three people begin to bond with each other and also learn from each other.
The characters are the driving force of Suicide Watch. Vincent is a sad character that gave me the same vibes Archer from Hushed did: he gave off a feeling of loneliness. He’s introverted and has trouble creating relationships, though he wants to, and has times where his sadness consumes him, sometimes having to take pills when it becomes to much. I felt very sad for this character and cared greatly for him, constantly wishing for a good ending for him throughout the book.
Casper and Adam were also amazing characters. I loved Casper and her energy and determination to live what’s left of her life as best as she could. Her death made me cry buckets and really made me feel like there was something missing from my heart. The quiet, music-loving Adam felt very real and, while I didn’t find him to be as memorable as Casper, his character had impact.
York writes these characters with depth, and even with only just over two hundred pages, develops them as much as many longer YA novels do. Maybe even more. Their feelings never felt downplayed and were portrayed in a sensitive way. And the bond that the three were able to forge between each other was touching and well-written.
I appreciate that York makes it a point to show that a person’s situation doesn’t matter, that it’s the feelings that do. Sometimes a person feels very sad, though their situation isn’t the worst, and I liked that York addressed this fact.
“It doesn’t matter if it could be worse, because even those people living on the street could still say ‘it’s not as bad as it could be.’ You still feel the pain. It still matters. All this means nothing unless you have people around who understand you. People who get that, sometimes, you’re just…really, really fucking sad and it’s for no reason at all. Then you get pissed off ’cause you realize you’re upset without a good reason, and you feel even worse.”
If there was anything that Suicide Watch lacked, I would say that it was a well-paced resolution. I loved the ray of hope that comes in the end, but the last couple of chapters felt rushed. Adding another fifty pages could have easily solve this problem.
Suicide Watch is a short emotional novel that I don’t think anyone should missed out on (it’s only 1.99$ on the Amazon Kindle store!). York really has a knack for write dark contemporary that pack an emotional punch. Fans of Hushed should also check this out. (I actually think that Suicide Watch is the better of the two great stories.)