Author: Jay AsherEdition: Kindle eBookRating: 4 Stars
I read this book thanks to Lys (the Mad Reader) recommending it to me. I've known about it for a while, but I haven't had that nudge to pick it up until she told me I must read it and I wouldn't regret it. Well, it was certainly a very good book and I absolutely do not regret it!
Thirteen Reasons Why is about a girl who committed suicide. She's left thirteen tapes for thirteen people to listen to and in these tapes she explains why she killed herself. Her name is Hannah Baker. The story is told through Clay's point of view as he listens to the tapes. He's not the first and he's not the last to get them and he barely knew Hannah Baker, but as he listens to her story he learns more than anyone knew before.
This is a powerful book. It's something everyone should read at least once. I wouldn't say it's a work of literary genius, but it's a work of great importance nonetheless. I understand now why school's often assign this book to teenagers. Suicide is a hard topic, and this book doesn't make it easier, but it does open the door to those important conversations, makes you look around the classroom and wonder if there is anyone contemplating suicide, and helps get rid of the taboo associated with the topic.
Because it was such a hard book to read it's a very hard review to formulate. I have so many thoughts in my head and they don't really have an order or necessary cohesion. But I'm going to try.
Mostly, this book made me angry. It made me angry that Hannah had to die. It made me angry to know people actually do kill themselves. Hannah's reasons made me angry. Not because they are trivial but because if just one of them hadn't happened, as small as it may have been, she might still be alive in the story. Hannah giving up made me angry- not because she didn't have that right or that agency, but because there was no one there to help her not give up. At once I am mad that she wasn't strong enough and yet I understand what it is to face depression and so I can understand that she reached her breaking point. And I am angry that I understand and I am angry that other people understand and I am just angry that these things happen.
I am angry that Hannah made these tapes and sent them to people. I am angry that the only people who know are the ones who hurt her. I am angry that she is petty but doesn't she have a reason to be petty? I am angry that people had to listen to these tapes. She doesn't know what they're going through. If it were me, and I was in the state I am now, and I got a tape where someone told me that I was part of the reason they killed themselves then I would be in bad shape myself. I think that's a really personal thing, and something I don't normally think about, but I laid in bed staring and my ceiling and wondering what I would do if I were in the situation that Clay, or someone else from the tapes, was in.
I am angry at the other characters, too. I am angry at everyone on the tapes and everyone not on the tapes. I am angry that no one saved her. I am angry that they did anything to hurt her in the first place. I am angry.
But it's really a good sort of anger. It's an anger that makes me reevaluate the world and consider every action and every word and every inaction. It's one that keeps me up late and just ponder the world and life itself. It's not an anger that takes away from the value of the book so much as add to it. And I really hope that when you read this book, you walk away angry, too.
Outside of this anger, there were a few authorial decisions that I didn't like. Small things (that I can't mention because spoilers) that just made the book miss some steps for me. They probably won't bother everyone, it's probably me being picky, but the small things always seem to be what get to me one way or another.
The best part of this book was the end. And I mean the very last page, the very last sentence, the very last emotion. It meant the world to me and it was a beautiful way to finish off this book. I hope that the ending leads to good things for the characters. I would be heartbroken to learn otherwise.
This book doesn't necessarily get four stars because I loved it that much, it gets four stars because it's such an impactful story. It stirred up so many emotions and made me think for so long after the last page that I know it will always live with me. If I'm ever a parent or an aunt or godmother or anything like that this will be one of the books I make sure to buy that child.
TL;DR? This is the most powerful book I've read this year and even though it brought such an anger out of me I think everyone should read it.