Review: Thirteen Reasons Why
From the cover:
Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker – his classmate and crush – who committed suicide two weeks earlier.
Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.
Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a first-hand witness to Hannah’s pain, and learns the truth about himself – a truth he never wanted to face.
I normally wouldn’t pick up a book about teenage suicide simply because of the depressing subject matter and the fear of being too affected by the book. My friends, however, have been bugging me for the longest time to give this book a shot and I finally got around to doing so.
Despite my friends’ encouragement to read Thirteen Reasons Why, I was a little apprehensive when I started it. It’s always difficult to read books about suicide, especially among teenagers, and I wasn’t sure how this book was going to affect me. I was pleasantly surprised though by how Asher dealt with the subject matter. He portrayed the reasons behind the suicide in a realistic manner and I could definitely see how one person’s actions may affect another. It makes you rethink how you should act and treat other people.
I was one of those annoying little kids that would constantly ask why. I always want to know what the motive was and what led someone to act in such a way. I think one of the things I learned from this book is that there isn’t an easy answer to that question. There wasn’t one simple reason that led Hannah to do what she did. Throughout the book she constantly refers to the snowball effect. How one person’s action cause someone else to do something and so on and so forth, ultimately leading towards the suicide.
At the same time though, the opposite is true. Any person could have broken the chain reaction and prevented the suicide from occurring. The signs were obvious and if the students were looking for it they would have seen it. What she needed was a friend to step up to the plate and let her know how valuable her life is. Sometimes doing nothing at all and being a bystander is just as bad as being the instigator.
Hannah was an easy character to connect to despite playing a postmortem role in the book. Even though I knew she was already dead from page one, I couldn’t help but root for her and hoped that she would somehow find the strength to get through high school and deal with the stress, pressure, and rumors that was suffocating her.
Suicide is an extremely serious matter and I don’t think most high school students realize that. I remember we had annual seminars about suicide while I was in high school and most students just took it as getting out of class early.
I think it’s strange for me to say I love a book about suicide, but I really do and I would recommend it. I hope people read it and realize that their actions, big or small, affect the people around them and to think about the consequences of their actions before going through with it.