Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher


Last night, I finished Jay Asher’s 13 Reasons Why. (I know, I know, I am the last person on the planet to read this book. Also: spoiler alert below!)

This morning, I thought about how the teen bullies in high school, become the bullies in college, become the bullies in the office. How someone like Bryce, for example, will continue to abuse women until they’re in prison. And I wondered how many girls were like Hannah, who felt the snowball rolling and didn’t think there was any other way to stop the slide.

I’ll admit, when I started the book, I was a little taken aback by the anger in Hannah’s voice. She was hard to empathize with, and at the end of the first few tapes I thought, “okay, high school sucks. But suicide worthy?” But I think when Asher gave Clay that moment of clarity – that he wasn’t getting to know Hannah better; he was learning about Hannah at her end — it was also a moment of clarity for the reader. As I read further, I found myself hoping that perhaps Hannah had sent the tapes and then ran away. A twist ending, where she wasn’t dead, and Clay could save her. I knew that was ridiculous, it was clear the book wasn’t set up that way. But still, I hoped.

And this morning, I felt sad for the loss of Hannah – a character who was already dead from the moment I opened the book. And angry at her classmates, most of them flawed individuals (like all of us), but some worse than others. But I also felt relieved for Skye, and the real-life teenagers like her that are walking the hallways. Perhaps Asher’s message of reaching out/stopping the snowball will reach them.

Questions:

1.) In general, what did you think of the book, my bloggery readers?

2.) On Amazon, a few commenters feel that Hannah’s reasons were trivial. Do you agree?

3.) Some commenters also feel that this book shouldn’t be read by anybody under 17 (!). Do you think books about suicidal teens encourage teens to commit suicide?

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00317767593205769881 Donna Gambale

    1. Loved this book. Absolutely fabulous, and like you said, excellent portrayal of how little things can snowball out of control.2. Nope — different things affect people in different ways. Hannah's bullying experience targeted her weakest area emotionally.3. One huge, emphatic NO.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11431700962951592287 beth

    1.) I liked it, *a lot* …until I got to Hannah's take on her teacher (near the end). I felt that was really unfair. Maybe I'm sensitive because I myself am a teacher, but Jay made those characters so real that when I thought of how the teacher would eventually get the tapes, he would torture himself forever for acting in a perfectly normal way. I realize Hannah's state of mind was off–but to lay that much blame on a teacher's doorstep, a teacher who, furthermore, asked several times if he could help–well, I know that would crush me, and it upset me (in some ways even more than Hannah suicide–because the teacher would then have to live with guilt he didn't deserve). 2.) Not really, but I can see that. I wasn't bothered by it except for the teacher and (possibly) Clay.3.) That's the stupidest thing I've heard all night, and I worked 14 hours today.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10942600698461250382 GhostFolk.com

    3. Yes. I guess if you haven't been suicidal, you wouldn't understand.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01773662895555098023 Candice

    1. I loved this book. I remember reading it some time when it first came out and of course, it was a fabulous read. 2 Not really. I agree with the first two commenters. Different things affect people in different ways.3. Personally, I don't agree at all. If teens read more about suicidal teens they would be more aware of teen suicides and how anything and affect everything. (If that makes sense?)-Candy *I just happened to stumble upon your blog & I have to say I love it. You give some great tips to aspiring writers! (:

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14354840714847021685 Claire Dawn

    I loved this book. It inspired me to write my own 13 reasons why: for why I write. http://aclairedawn.blogspot.com/2009/12/waw-thirteen-reasons-why.htmlI thought it was a fantastic examination of the effect that society has on a person's psyche. None of Hannah's reasons is really huge. But as you read, you begin to understand how they feel like they're the end of the world. I mean, even as adults, we've all been through some point (a breakup, losing ajob, failing a course) where it felt like it was all crashing down. Yet in retrospect, it's a bit like "really? that was such a big deal?"I don't think the book encourages suicide. I think it encourages people to take notice of those around them. Sometimes, you just don't know how close to the edge others are. Personally, as someone who has suffered from depression, I think happy books are more depressing. They make you feel like everyone in the world is happy, and something's wrong with you because you're not capable of feeling that way. But obviously, to each his own.