Title: Thirteen Reasons Why
Author: Jay Asher
Publish Date: June 14, 2011
# of Pages: 288
(**Warning** Possible spoilers)
(From Goodreads) You can’t stop the future.
You can’t rewind the past.
The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.
Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.
Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.
Thirteen Reasons Why is a book about a young girl named Hannah who commits suicide. In her wake, she leaves behind thirteen cassette tapes–her reasons why she committed suicide–that she expects each person to listen to and then pass on. The story follows Clay Jensen as he listens to the tapes and uncovers the reasons why his crush, Hannah, decided to end her life.
What to say? I read this book at an uncanny time. Earlier this week while I was reading it, I found out that a high school boy in my community committed suicide. He was goaded on and bullied by other students. They told him no one loved him and that he should just kill himself. They laughed as they mocked him, saying truly deplorable things. I read the Twitter group messages myself, and let me tell you, they were rough. If the kid in my community had been treated with kindness, would he have ended his life? Maybe. Maybe not.
I know this book (and subsequent television series) is somewhat controversial because of how the author handles suicide. Some people say that Thirteen Reasons Why glamorizes suicide and doesn’t give you all the reasons why you shouldn’t commit suicide. While I can sympathize with that thought process, I think the overall message of the book is positive. Simply put: your actions and words affect others.
I know that message seems simple, right? Of course your actions and words affect others, but it’s not something we always think about, especially young adolescents. Hannah went through some rough stuff in Thirteen Reasons Why, and the teasing and rumor-spreading of her peers affected her deeply.
I enjoyed reading this book, as difficult a subject as it is. Thirteen Reasons Why is thoughtfully written and what I would categorize as a “quick read.” I think this book should be read and talked about amongst our youth. It’s an important topic that we shouldn’t shy away from.
Most importantly: Be kind. Be gentle. You never know what someone else is going through.
“When you hold people up for ridicule, you have to take responsibility when other people act on it.”
“This time, for the first time, I saw the possibilities in giving up. I even found hope in it.”
“Guess that’s the point of it all. No one knows for certain how much impact they have on the lives of other people. Oftentimes, we have no clue.”
“When you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re messing with their entire life. Everything . . . affects everything.”
Check this book out at your local library, or buy it here* on Amazon.
*Note: this is an affiliate link