Thirteen Reasons Why is a young adult novel written by Jay Asher. Originally released in 2007, the book has found a new popularity due to the hype of the Netflix series of the same name. The novel tells the story of why teenager, Hannah Baker, decides to end her life.
Honestly, my thoughts are all over the place with this book. With that being said, I can not promise that this review won’t contain spoilers. So if you haven’t read the book or watched the show, you may not want to read further.
My family has been personally effected by suicide. We lost a dear family friend when I was still in high school. It leaves the family members and friends with so many unanswered questions. Even when there is a note or in this case, a set of cassette tapes telling all the problems Hannah had. Survivors are left wondering, “why didn’t they ask for help?, why didn’t we notice the signs?, what could we have done differently to help them?, should I have not said this, not done that?” I think this is why it’s so hard for me to nail down a concrete feeling on this book.
In this story we follow Hannah’s story through a series of cassette tapes that she has let behind for her classmates. Each side of a tape is a different person’s story and how they contributed to the final decision that pushed Hannah to end her life. We hear her words through Clay Jenson’s ears. He is the one person that Hannah claims didn’t deserve to be on her list.
I like the way the writing goes back and forth between two time lines so seamlessly. You never have to guess whose point of view you are reading. It is clearly defined. As far as the book goes, and even the story itself, I would say it is definitely a good read.
I think the main problem I have with the story is that it is targeted to teenagers. There has been some controversy that it glorifies suicide and to a degree I am inclined to agree. I feel like maybe we could have gotten a chapter on how the students coped afterwards. Maybe we could have seen some of the more terrible ones be a bit kinder to other people. Maybe show some real development between Clay and Skye. I think that may give readers who are struggling with suicide themselves a way to see that it can get better.
High school can seriously suck. Teenagers can be really cruel to each other. This book did a phenomenal job of illustrating that. It is proof of how one person’s opinion of a person, and how one lie can “snowball” and destroy someone’s life.
I apologize, if this seems all over the place, like I said I can’t form a solid opinion on this novel. I liked it, but I’m torn on if I agree if teenagers should read it. If it’s a fully stable teenager, then I’d say go for it. But, a teenager already teetering on the edge, someone who already has problems socially, I think it may magnify their anxiety and make things worse.
If you stuck around this long, through all my rambling. Thanks and happy reading! 🙂