13 reasons why – Jay Asher


Thirteen Reasons Why – Jay Asher

Synopsis

Clay reviews cassette tapes recorded by Hannah, a girl he had a crush on in school. She also recently committed suicide. The tapes are an explanation of the 13 people who had some connection to the reasons why she decided to take her own life.

Clay uses the tapes as a guide, walking around town to visit the places where events critical to Hannah’s life happened.

Opinion

First, I must explain why there is no rating for this book- reading this book was way out of my comfort zone. If I had rated it, it would have been low but in way I did not think that was fair to the story. It was a struggle for me to get through this book. But not for the reasons you might think. The story is told from the POV of Clay and Hannah. At times it was difficult for me to determine on the kindle if the words were italicized which would indicate Hannah’s narration (this book is probably best read in paperback).

As for the story itself: I guess the moral should be- Be kind to one another. Being mean and insensitive to a person can lead to their suicide.

While I think it was the author’s intention to create a series of incidents that caused you to feel sorry for Hannah, I was less emotionally moved. It annoyed me that Hannah kept choosing to associate with self-absorbed, egocentric, catty, spiteful, vindictive, obnoxious people. She identified these qualities in them but continued to put herself in situations that allowed them to hurt her feelings as if she was overly optimistic that they would rise above their own catty behavior and be better people. I believe that she kept toxic friends to be able to use them as an excuse for her own self-inflicted behavior.

There is no doubt that Hannah was a victim of an insidious form of bullying. However, that is only part of the story. She was also very immature and displayed some of the same qualities for which she demonized her fellow classmates. In the end, I think her suicide was less about what others did to her and more about what she allowed to happen (that statement will make more sense if you read the book).

Most of the people Hannah’s list were jerks. In the whole book, I felt sorry for 3 people

1.    Hannah’s parents – they lost their child. They were already having financial problems. Now they have the added stress and guilt that their child committed suicide and they do not really know why.

2.    Guidance counselor – he was not in a position to help Hannah because by the time she talked to him, she had already made up her mind what she was going to do. She gave him such cryptic answers that only a mind reader would have been able to discern what she was trying to say. She was expecting a miracle solution (probably involving time travel to undo what had been done) instead of pragmatic reality. It was not fair of her to blame him.

3.    This person will remain nameless (read the book and you will understand who this person is) – this person is one of the few characters of the story who was not a horrible person deserving of a life-long guilt trip.

 If so many people had not raved about this book, I would not have given it a second glance. While not my cup of tea, I would classify this book as young adult fiction recommended for teenagers. My only worry is that this book glamorizes suicide as a melodramatic way to have the last say to all those who you perceive have wronged you in some way.

I do hope that those who identify with the feelings that Hannah exhibited understand their own personal responsibility in making sure that someone knows exactly how they feel without talking in code or hoping that someone is going to read between the lines to hear what they are saying.

The conversation should be about open, honest communication before taking drastic measures such as taking one’s own life.

 

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