I waited a little bit before doing this review because it is such a heavy topic. This review will touch on 13 reasons why and the topic of suicide to forewarn anyone who does not wish to read about that. The review will focus solely on the book, a review of the show will come later.
Thirteen Reasons Why is a book by Jay Asher that follows Clay, a classmate who knew Hannah. After her suicide Clay receives some tapes in the mail telling about why she did what she did and if you had the tapes you were one of the reasons.
The book follows Clay through out the whole night, as he listens to these stories of classmates he knows, and the rumors he had heard; wondering how he fit into the picture. He spends a night in agony, learning the horrible truth behind Hannah’s death, dreading how he is the cause of it and hating everyone who was involved. As the mystery unravels and we learn the truth as to why this happened our eyes are open the the consequences of both our words and actions.
I had first read this book when I was in college. I had seen it around a few times on occasion but no one had ever recommended it to me just yet. A friend of mine told me that they loved this book and lent it to me. I finished it in one setting, I couldn’t put it down. Never before had I read something like this or something so intense. The writing was truly wonderful as well, spelling out situations from high school as if the author had just been a teen himself. At least they felt real and relatable to how teens would really act. Thankfully I had gone to a high school that was not overly cliquey but I still had known the concept and dealt with it on several occasions.
I loved how the story followed Clay, and how he had to listen to all these tapes learning things that he should have never learned. He sees his classmates in a different light, learning the truth behind teenage cruelness and he learns that things like this can be helped and prevented if only someone would step up and care, or just not be so harsh. The tapes left Clay with many “what if” questions which added to the story and the pain of the reality of suicide.
I want to tackle the topic of the tapes in this review as well. I have seen many sides to what people think of this and it is a huge thing that Hannah had sent the tapes around. Some say it was cruel and no one deserves that, it’s petty and rude and there was no point it just glorified suicide. I felt differently, I felt as if the author was trying to get the point across that death is not the end all to pain. By Hannah doing this she set in motion so many consequences she could never have imagined. By sending out those tapes, a girl who was so hurt she desperately wanted people to know what they had done, she showed people what their actions could do. Should she have done it? Probably not, it was kind of a terrible move on her part. But Hannah is gone, she isn’t an active character. She had pain in her life and the only way she could think to deal with that pain was to place the blame where she felt it belonged. It added a human element to the story, and showed that even the victims are not perfect people.
The book itself deals with a very heavy topic, and while very good and well written it is very hard to read. I don’t recommend this book to just anyone. I would only recommend this book to people who can handle it, who are actively interested in learning more about how to prevent and people who can fully understand that this is not just a story to read and go “that was good” and pass it up. It is a learning experience, and it takes a lot out of the reader. But it’s a topic that often goes silent for too long. It needs to be talked about and I feel as though this book does a fairly decent job. I don’t think it glorifies anything, I think it shows that raw pain behind a choice like this. It is not the be all end all of books on this topic, there is always a better way to talk about suicide. But the topic tackled it in a unique way that got the readers attention, and did a decent job discussing things about the damage left behind.
I rated this book a 5/5 stars on Goodreads, I really enjoyed the book. It definitely opened my eyes up, and it made me think about things I hadn’t before. Again, it’s a hard book to read. It is not as hard to read as it is to watch the show though. If you want the story but don’t want it super graphic then I recommend to read the book. It is definitely worth the read. But again, it is not for everyone and not everyone enjoys it or sees it the same way that I do.
*Please keep the comments nice, I do not mind if you have a differing opinion but please do not comment on a post like this with negative and abusive comments. If you didn’t like the book or story find a way to portray your thought and feelings without telling me that mine are wrong. Thank you.