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REVIEW: “Suicide Watch” by Kelley York


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 And there’s quiet, withdrawn Adam, who suspects if he died, his mom wouldn’t even notice.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.


Vincent has a hard life. A product of the foster system, he’s moved from home to home and never been able to find the right fit. So when he lands with Maggie and she takes care of him in the best possible ways—not by smothering him with emotion or with unreasonable strictness—but in ways that cater to Vince’s personality and his story. With Maggie, it seems, things might actually work out for the best.

So it’s fairly easy to see why Maggie’s death nearly destroys the fragile façade of Vince’s life. What will he do, this kid who has little knowledge about how to take care of himself? Can he survive? As you read Suicide Watch, you’ll never stop asking yourself that question.

Not once, even to the very end.

It becomes clear that Vince desperately needs friends in his life. He has one adult who seems invested in helping Vince make it through these tough times, but it’s Casper, a girl with terminal cancer, and Adam, a socially awkward and depressed boy close to Vince’s age, who start to bring about change. They meet in a suicide-pact chat forum, but slowly, slowly these three learn to cope with their individual destinies and struggle to lift each other up and make peace with their troubles.

Vince’s story is haunting and sad. It’ll leave a lump in your throat. I thought Suicide Watch perfectly captured the feelings and emotions of youth. Feelings of isolation and desperation, but also feelings of wanting to belong and fit in and be loved. You’ll want things to get better—for all of them, but especially Vince.

Kelley York’s writing so thoroughly captures the desperation of each and every single character. I felt down but not out while I was reading, and I hoped. I hoped so intensely. I won’t share with you whether or not there’s a “happy” ending; I think that would defeat the purpose of the story. But I hope you’ll read it and find out for yourself; it’s a beautifully written book.



16240541Title:  Suicide Watch
Author:  Kelley York
Publisher:  Self-pub
Pages:  220
Release Date:  December 20, 2012
Purchase Links:  Amazon

3 comments on “REVIEW: “Suicide Watch” by Kelley York

  1. Kaje Harper
    April 17, 2014

    I thought this was well done. It’s such a hard topic, and finding a balance between the pain and hope is tough. You don’t want to be too bleak or too Polyanna. I thought this author did a very good job in both tone and characters. A good YA read too.


    • jenhuff03
      April 17, 2014

      Agree on all points, and yes, an *excellent* YA read. Glad you pointed that out! :)


  2. Pingback: LGBT Favourites: Part 2 | Brin's Book Blog

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This entry was posted on April 17, 2014 by in Contemporary, Reviewer: Jenni and tagged , , .

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