Thirteen Reasons

Let me give you thirteen reasons why you should read Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher.

Reason 1 – 13

Because I said so.

Yesterday I heard about a book called Thirteen Reasons Why.  I’m a big sucker for books that beg questions, and this caught my interest.  Reasons why what?  That was the first thought I had.  So I read the synopsis, and immediately checked to see if the library had it.  They did.  Even more perfect, they had the audio available.

I’m loving audios.  I can listen in the car, during a bath, while I’m doing housework, making dinner.  You get the point right?  Well this one specifically, I knew I wanted to read on audio.  This is why.

Thirteen Reasons Why is about suicide.  Clay comes home one day to find a package addressed to him, with no return address.  He opens it and finds 7 cassette tapes, each side number 1 through 13.  Having absolutely no idea who sent them or what they are, he pops in tape 1 side 1, and hears the voice of the dead girl at school – Hannah.  Hannah committed suicide two weeks prior, and was a secret love interest of Clay’s.  Hannah explains on the tape, that there are thirteen reasons why she killed herself, one for each side of the tapes.  Each reason has to do with a specific person, and if you’ve been given the tapes, you are one of those people.  She informs the listener that they must listen to all of the tapes, and when they are done, ship the tapes off to the next person on her list.  If they do not do as she requests, someone who is holding a second set of the tapes will release them publicly, along with all of the secrets they each have.

Clay loved Hannah, he has no idea why he is on the tape or why she ended her life.  But he listens anyway, desperately searching for resolution.

It only makes sense that since Clay was forced to hear Hannah’s voice, and listen to her story, that I do the same.  The audio allowed me to feel so connected to the voices of Clay and Hannah.  I highly suggest everyone check out this book, and if available, in audio format.  It’s haunting.

I can’t really “spoil” this book by leaving a detailed review of my reaction.  There is no climax.  We know the ending.  We know that in the end the girl dies.  If you don’t want to hear what I have to say though, stop here, because I am going to talk specifics.

I’ve always had a hard time understanding suicide.  To me, and this is solely my opinion, it is the most selfish action you can take.  It seems so foreign to me that someone would take their life, and leave loved ones with the burden of that choice.  Especially if there is blame left, suicide notes…Hannah’s cassettes…etc.  It just makes is so permanent.  For the rest of their lives, the people around you will never forget, they will be haunted by your choice, even though you got to cut yourself out of the picture.

After reading this, I still feel that way.  If everyone who felt the way Hannah did, committed suicide, we would be somewhere around population 0.  No one, especially teenagers, have simple, happy, perfect lives.  Hannah was not extraordinary.  She was a normal girl, with normal experiences, unfortunately she also had quite a few really bad experiences.  I can understand where her head was after catching her peeping tom, or watching a classmate get raped, knowing you could have stopped it.  But it seemed that some of her reasons for killing herself, all resulted from her lack of doing something about it.  She claims that things happened TO her, that no one did enough to stop her.  I kept thinking – What did YOU do though Hannah?  You didn’t try to stop the rape, you didn’t call the police, you didn’t speak out against rumors against you.  You accepted what was getting dealt.

It was so horrible to listen to her tell her story.  Each of her reasons were quite complex, and let out some extremely intense secrets her classmates were keeping.  Each one of those people she blamed for her death, except Clay.  Clay she claimed wasn’t deserving of blame, but in the end, she still felt he didn’t do enough to stop her, to keep her.  It left me feeling distraught for Clay, who would be stuck with that feeling of blame forever.  Continuously thinking he should have known what was going on with her, he should have stopped it, he could have done more.  That isn’t fair.  I felt so sad for him.

In the end, I didn’t really like Hannah.  I found it hard to like her, even though I wanted to.  I felt for her though.  I think we all can.  We’ve all seen the way kids are to each other, the ways they tear one another down.  When push comes to shove, we’ve all felt like she did, at least once.  It didn’t mean I liked her though.  I wish she was strong enough to turn it all around.  I wish that she had let someone in.  I kept hoping that she would see how much Clay could have helped…

It was profound though, to see all of the little connections.  Hannah’s feelings taught me a lot about all of the little connections in society.  How even small actions can lead to other unpredicted situations with consequences that you would never believe.  When we’re kids, it’s hard to see those things, everything we do is about instant gratification.  We vote someone Best Ass of Freshman Class because we think it’s a compliment, or maybe a joke.  We don’t realize that doing so could lead to someone else thinking it’s okay to objectify that ass.  Afterall, it’s only an ass, right?  What get’s forgotten is that there is a person attached to it, someone who didn’t ask to get voted for, someone who didn’t get a chance to say No.  Everyday, we take other peoples lives into our own hands, without ever realizing it.  We make decisions about them, and for them, without thinking twice.  Without considering the consequences.

The story was gripping, deep, eerie, sad.  Asher’s concept was genius, and I think lays a good foundation for understanding actions – actions that take on a life of their own.   Thirteen Reasons Why is such a good read.  I recommend it to anyone and everyone.   I couldn’t stop the disc once it started, it was like watching a train wreck.


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