Last week, I began book talking Thirteen Reasons Why before I had finished it. I completed the novel the day after my previous blog, and I feel Thirteen Reasons Why deserves a complete book talk. Before beginning this blog, I looked at multiple reviews online to make sure I didn’t miss anything about the book, and they couldn’t be more mixed. Some believe it to be a dangerous book for young adults and say Jay Asher should be ashamed of himself while others believe it to be educational and say every teenager should read it. Since finishing the novel, my opinion has remained unchanged. I read the book in a couple days. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t intrigued by the story because I was, and I think the book was written well. That being said, I don’t think it is the most appropriate method to bring attention to suicide for junior high or high school students.
The novel’s chapters are split up by different tapes, one for each person Hannah Baker believes led her to end her life. The person on the first tape was instructed to send the tapes to the person on the second and so on, and Hannah warns listeners that the tapes will be released in a public fashion if her instructions aren’t followed. The novel follow’s Clay Jensen’s experience listening to the tapes, and he is confused why he is included because he doesn’t believe he could have led Hannah to kill herself. I won’t give away any more spoilers for those who are interested in reading the book!
I think Jay Asher’s intention for the book was to make people aware of how avoidable suicide is, and I think he does that to some extent. The novel does show how immature actions can affect someone immensely, but he fails to show how avoidable it is on Hannah’s end. The story is tragic, but I think is because Hannah Baker’s suicide is about her getting revenge on the people she believed to have caused it and because her death is treated like it was an inevitable ending to her life. Again, the story was well-written, but I don’t believe this is the appropriate message to send to extremely impressionable students about suicide.