eBook Review: 13 Reasons Why

Thirteen Reasons WhyThirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I finished this on 18 August 2018. My reviews are now up-to-date.

The blurb: 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.

My review: OK, let me start by saying I read this book because I’ve been affected by suicide. It’s a grim, depressing subject. However, I am a firm believer that we have to raise suicide awareness. And let me also say that I’ve had a hard time writing a review for this book.

Part of me feels that in the wrong hands, this book would guide a vulnerable mind in the wrong direction. The book screams take your own life but point the finger at all the terrible people in your life first. How is that helpful? And when she finally turns to an authority figure, she doesn’t get help. Although I know some people don’t “hear” what’s being said, this was a teacher who should be trained for this type of thing. How is that offering options or raising awareness?

The other part of me recognises that the book is trying to say that it’s usually not one big thing that pushes someone to suicide but many things that, together and over time, make you feel numb and lost. Which in turn, takes aware the feeling that there are other options. And we mustn’t overlook the other lesson to be learned here; consequences. We must be aware that what we say and do to others has consequences. A joke is only a joke if all parties know it’s a joke. Ultimately, we are all in charge of our own decision making and must live with the consequences.

And yet another part of me is whispering that the book isn’t meant to focus on Hannah’s suicide, it was meant to focus on the reason she is telling these people what their part in her decision was; and it was her hope that knowing this reason would change the person’s outlook on life and the way they interact with others. In other words, make them a better person. The ending of the book proves that at least one person did see the error of their ways and change.

In all honesty, I didn’t mind the book whilst reading it, but now I have to think about how the book would be received by someone with suicidal thoughts, and I must admit that worries me. I usually talk about character building, plot lines and the author’s style of writing when writing reviews, but on this occasion none of that seems relevant.

It’s a well written book, but my gut tells me that the wrong message has taken the highlighted position, which is a shame.

I originally gave this book 4 out of 5 stars, but having written this review and gotten my head around what the book delivered, I feel I have to lower that rating to 3 out of 5 stars.

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