Title: Thirteen Reasons Why
My rating: 4/5
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 as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.
Baker’s Dozen……. aka 13…..
In this year’s secret snowflake, my gifter sent me a copy of this book! I’ll admit, when I first saw it (and knowing who my gifter was later), I was expecting an inspirational, feel-good story. This IS NOT that type of story! I picked it up shortly realizing that the Netflix trailer I kept seeing was for this book and several of my students flew through the Netflix series. Of course I had to read it first before doing an adaptation comparison. What I found was something so raw, emotional, eerie, and pulse racing that I did not expect. I appreciated the unique narration of blending past and present into seamless story instead of alternating chapters as authors typically do.
Working with college students, the topics of self-harm, depression, and suicide are real and ever-present unfortunately. Talking with a colleague, we expressed both seeing negative critiques towards these topics being so blatantly and sometimes graphically portrayed. However, the conversation around something that has always been taboo has emerged. One can argue that this story (more-so the show) glorifies suicide and alludes to it being the only option or a way to get attention. I should mention that I am not in a place to say I know what this feels like or have been in a place where I wanted to cause self-harm. I do think it is important for us to understand that there can be a domino effect of actions that add up to the bigger picture that one individual does not see. Asher speaks to the warning signs and (taboo) ignorance of talking about it in the communication class Hannah is in. With all this being said and how well written the story is, I cannot bring myself to finish the last half of the series. Some scenes were capitalized on graphically that I have heard about and read in reviews and I am not sure I can handle watching those (sexual assault, rape, and the suicide) – I’m not sure what benefit that would add, I would not be entertained, that’s for sure.
Notable quotes to contemplate:
“When you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re messing with their entire life. Everything…affects everything” (Asher 201)
“His lack of interest in me was a reminder. Even though I had a history in that house, it didn’t matter. You can’t go back to how things were. How you thought they were. All you really have…is now” (Asher 206)
“Because what if I got to know you and you turned out to be just like what they said? What if you weren’t the person I hoped you were?” (Asher 207)