I recently read the book Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher for Julie’s PBF Book Club.
About the book:
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 why 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 firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and learns the truth about
himself-a truth he never wanted to face.
I want to start out by saying that I think teenage suicide is a serious situation that shouldn’t be taken lightly. That being said, I think some of Hannah’s reasons for committing suicide are absolutely ridiculous.
This post will contain spoilers of the book, so please come back and read it after you’ve read the book. My personal opinion is that you should read this book. It’s well-written and a story that will suck you in, although I can’t say that I loved the book.
I enjoyed the way the book was written – it flips between Hannah and Clay’s points of view within the same chapter. I have never read a book written like this, and while I see how it can be slightly confusing it works out well if you pay attention to the story.
I like reading Hannah and Clay’s reaction right away rather than having them tell their story by switching off each chapter. I liked Clay’s character. I thought he was a believable character, and you can’t help but keep reading to see where he fits into Hannah’s story. I think a lot of the choices that he made were predictable, but they’d have to be for the story line to work out.
Hannah’s character, on the other hand, I did not like. At all. Here’s where the whole thing about teen suicide is a serious subject comes in. I thought some of Hannah’s reasons for killing herself were absolutely ridiculous.
There are teens in the world that face horrible problems – problems with bullying at school, problems with drugs and alcohol, problems with being hurt and abused. I was surprised that Hannah’s reasons for committing suicide were so petty. For example, one of the reasons that she adds to her list of reasons why she killed herself is because she was voted best ass at school.
There are kids in the world that are getting bullied and beat up at school, and even killed, and she’s upset because she was voted best ass? That’s a joke. I understand that this then lead to a guy feeling like had the right to grab her ass, and yes, I don’t agree with that, but there are a lot worse things that could happen at school than being voted best ass.
The book was written so that each person that Hannah blames for her suicide receives a tape explaining why it’s their fault. So now these people will feel guilty for the rest of their lives because they did something as normal as vote a girl best ass in high school. These are normal things that happen in high school. I mean, it’s high school! I’m not trying to make light of Hannah’s feelings, and I understand that vote then lead to more problems, but if someone voted me best ass, I’d be pretty darn happy.
Then, by the end of the book, she’s putting herself purposely into bad situations and then blaming others for her decisions. I know that people who commit suicide usually “give up” on life and don’t really care what happens to them, but I don’t think Hannah should have put herself into a bad situation and then sent a tape to someone saying that it was all their fault.
Also, Hannah is so upset by all these people who have added weight to the decision to kill herself, but she sits by (in a closet) while something bad happens to another girl. She wants someone to “save” her, but she doesn’t want to have any part in reaching out and helping someone else.
I did think that this book was well written with an interesting story line. I like that you can hear Hannah’s side of the story from beyond the grave through the cassette tapes rather than her being a ghost or something like that.
The story kind of sucks you in because you want to find out what happens next and who’s on the tapes. And, of course, you’re relieved to find out that Clay isn’t on the tapes for a bad reason. Although, I did find that part slightly unbelievable. She’s going to blame 12 other people, but then add one person who did nothing wrong. I think it was just the author’s way of sharing the story without making you hate Clay.
Thirteen Reason Why got great reviews on Amazon, and it seems like I’m in the minority of people who didn’t like it. And it’s not even that I didn’t like it, it’s just that I thought Hannah’s reasons weren’t exactly as horrible as some things kids truly go through.
Hannah seemed very self-centered and she enjoyed spreading the guilt to all these people by shoving it into their faces and saying ha-ha. I do think that some of those people maybe deserved to be on her list, but it makes Hannah a very hard character to relate to and feel sorry for.
Bottom line is that I was very much sucked into the story and would recommend reading it, but I can’t say that I agree with all of Hannah’s reasons why.