A book about suicide can be a touchy thing.
This brooding novel is about a teenager going through the throes of suicidal tendencies. It puts you in the head of 17-year old JD Dillenger, as he contemplates the taking of his own life. It puts you in the head of all the high school drama and angst…of all the misguided and overconfident certainty that only comes with adolescence…but, here you’re not quite sure if it is all just high school drama and angst or the real thing. You know…for a novel.
What isn’t so misguided in this conversation is the sense of despair and what’s-the-point that seems so prevalent in today’s society—and with good reason. Look at this Forever War we’re in. The state of the world…well, at least as the media portrays it. Then throw in all the usual teenage angst to boot: messed-up friends…lack of direction…lack of self-esteem…confusing religious ideas…parents that are never around and have their own issues. School. I can see why the youth of today (hell, anyone!) feel so out of control. So hopeless.
Yeah, then throw some drug use into the mix.
That is the point of Aaron Michael Ritchey’s intense and darkly humorous novel. That there is a reason to live, and we each have to find it. We have to find the parts of life that make it worth living…but we can’t always do that alone. We have to find what it is that makes life beautiful to each of us, and sometimes we need a helping hand. That there are missteps along the way…and there are definite consequences to our actions, as Ritchey points out…but we can course-correct and still make it.
In the back matter of this novel, Aaron has suicide prevention information. Aaron himself also talks about his own brush with the suicidal, so he definitely knows whereof he speaks. I know Aaron—okay, just a little bit (you see, once you meet him, everyone wants to feel they intimately know “Aaron-Michael-Ritchey“)—but what I know about him is that he is an outgoing, fun and funny—sometimes overly caffeinated?—dude. He’s a great conversationalist and just a blast to hang around and bullshit with, so, you’d never know he had such a deep, dark problem earlier in his life…which is the thing about suicidal tendencies: you can’t always know just by looking at somebody. I worked with three people who ended up taking their own lives, and I never saw “this” in any of them.
Long Live The Suicide King gives a teenager’s perspective on a dark topic, and Aaron does it quite well..so much so that I felt I was back in high school. It shows that if you have teenagers—or anyone, for that matter—with behavior like JD’s, don’t dismiss it and think it minor. Don’t chalk it up to teenage drama and ignore it. Confront it immediately. Seek professional help.
The Grievers – by Marc Schuster (fpdorchak.wordpress.com)
MileHiCon 46…or This Blog is Really About Aaron Michael Ritchey (fpdorchak.wordpress.com)