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I have been suffering from a little book hangover after I read Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. It became all-consuming in my life and it’s not very often that a book sits with me for weeks after I read it.
Thirteen Reasons Why is a book about teen suicide and it’s a confronting look into the lives of teens, the people around them and how everyone has the chance to be there for someone else.
The story follows Clay Jensen, a shy high schooler who comes home from school to find a package sent anonymously to him. After opening it he realises it contains tapes from his dead classmate Hannah, revealing why she killed herself and all the people she holds responsible. The tapes contain Hannah’s struggle with a new school, parents that are otherwise occupied and kids at school who don’t realise the impact their actions have.
I think the reason this book hit so hard at home with me is because is it technically brilliant; weaving two narrators in one story but never losing the integrity or sincerity of each is incredible in itself, but also emotionally heartbreaking.
Jay Asher clearly understands suicide and not just the psychology behind it, or the reasons for it but everything else. The grief that follows, the unanswered questions and the gnawing doubt that you could have done more, are explained effortlessly for the reader.
Naturally such a controversial book has mixed reviews; I think though this book is a must for teens because it shows people how even the smallest action can change someone’s life, and I think it would really open a lot of teen eyes.
At least that’s how it was for me, eye-opening and extremely confronting. After reading this book I thought about it for weeks before I could write down my thoughts because they were all over the place.
I understand the motivation for Hannah to kill herself. I understand where some of the others characters were coming from in hating her for naming and shaming her classmates and I get why some people think this book glories suicide.
But I think the aim of this book isn’t to teach kids not to commit suicide, I think it’s to teach them that everything they do affects someone else. I think this book helps teach people social awareness and that’s a really important lesson.