13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher was a tough book to read. It’s a story about a girl named Hannah who, before her suicide, makes several cassettes outlining her reasons why. She then has them sent out after her death to the people mentioned in the tapes. We the reader hear the cassettes as Clay, one of the names in the tapes, listens to them. Asher does an interesting job with having Clay commenting in the present as he listens to Hannah’s tapes.
The reasons that Hannah ends her life are laid out before us, and even though some of the issues seem minor, to her they made a huge impact. And that’s the message of the story- that how we treat people can affect them in ways we don’t consider. How gossip and innuendo, and just plain indifference can tear away at someone’s soul. Teenagers often commit suicide simply because they don’t have long term vision of their life, most live in the here and now, and they can’t picture things changing.
I went to high school in a very small town, and my senior year a classmate ended his life in suicide. At the time it was shocking, but afterwards the signs were so clear that something was wrong. Even though he was not a friend (he had very few), he was in drama and chorus with me. There are few things that would make me want to go back in time to high school, but the chance to reach out to D and get him through our crappy, small-minded, backwards backwoods high school would be more than enough incentive.
13 Reasons Why, although flawed, shows how easily and unthinkingly human beings hurt one another. Every time we gossip, every time we turn our back on someone needing a friendly gesture, every time we just pretend not to see someone’s pain we cause damage. The author, Jay Asher, was inspired to write the book after a cousin of his attempted suicide. Fortunately she failed, and is alive and well today. Whether you think suicide is a selfish act, a lonely act, or a desperate act, 13 Reasons Why will make you think about your own actions. And that’s a good thing.
I’m giving 13 Reasons Why a Midnight Book Rating of 10pm. It’s a compelling read, it’ll be hard to put down, but not a good book to read in the silence of the night.
Wow, this post has been a downer. I feel the need to watch an episode of Golden Girls to get my happy back!