Sunday, November 17, 2013

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (CBR-V #50)

Cannonball Read V: Book #50/52
Published: 2007
Pages: 304
Genre: Young Adult

Hannah is a high school student who committed suicide. Before she did it, she recorded 13 cassette tapes naming all of the people who contributed to her decision to end her life and why. If the people on the tapes don't pass them along to the next person the list, a second set of tapes will be made public. The book follows Hannah's classmate Clay and his experience listening to the tapes. 

I had really mixed feeling about this book. One one hand, I do get the point the author was trying to get across. You never know what is going on with someone else so try and treat people with a little decency and compassion. Unfortunately, decency and compassion aren't well-known traits among high-schoolers. 

On the other hand, I felt like Hannah was trying to justify her decision to commit suicide. Like it was okay because these were her reasons. But there is no justification for suicide. She tried to put all the blame on these other students when the blame should have been put on her obvious depression. 

I'm not trying to downplay how serious of an issue suicide is. It's terrible and awful for the people they leave behind. However, I didn't really feel that Hannah's high school experience was that abnormal. There were some rumors that spread about her and SHE made some bad decisions as well that ended up with consequences that she felt guilty about. Sounds like a pretty typical high school experience to me. 

Basically, I wish the book had focused more on the signs of suicide she was showing (change in appearance, giving away possessions, etc.) and why no one noticed. She even talked to the guidance counselor and showed some pretty disturbing signs of extreme depression. But no one thought to get her any help? The suicide probably couldn't have been prevented even if every single person on that list behaved differently. It might have been if someone had noticed Hannah's signs and gotten her real help. That was the real tragedy here. 


  1. I also had mixed feelings about this one - I think it's a good one for teens to read to get a discussion going, but I was pissed about the fact that one of the people she blamed actually had something very bad happen to her. And then Hannah airs this other person's private life to the tape recipients without that girl's consent (sorry, it's been a while since I've read it so I don't remember the names).

    1. I completely agree. That made me mad too. I also felt she was realllly stretching to find reasons to blame some of these people. Someone has to live with the guilt of being implicated as a contributor to a suicide for ditching someone at a party or playing a prank in class? I just wish they spent more time on the real reason Hannah committed suicide - mental illness - instead of finding people to blame.

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