An Important and Emotional Novel About Reality | Review of ‘Thirteen Reasons Why’

By Cynthia Ayala

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Image Credit: Goodreads

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.

Published October 18, 2007, by Razorbill, Thirteen Reasons Why
by Jay Asher is a challenging novel that shines a light on something very dark, highlighting where help can be offered and where it can be needed.

Thirteen Reasons Why is, above all, a must read because of everything it touches in the novel. High school is hard for everyone, but for some, it’s even harder, isolating some to the extent that suicide becomes the only option left. And in today’s day of social media, bullying, and isolation has only continued to grow. And it’s important that people talk about, it’s important that it’s something being addressed, that it’s something people are thinking about. That is exactly what Jay Asher does. Personally, I would not recommend this novel for people who are at the edge, because in truth, someone that broken, in that much pain, they might use the book as an excuse to end it. But for anyone searching for the signs, for anyone who wants to understand that mentally to see if they can help, this is such an important novel.

Asher got into that headspace, he created a character who is still talking even after death, explaining her thoughts, explaining her bullying, explaining everything she went through and how she suffered. It’s not the same for everyone, that’s true, but he points out the warning signs that are similar for everyone. Asher points out that how we treat each other is important, even if we don’t see if, even if we don’t mean too, some people get hurt, and it’s important to see that. Through Hannah, the reader gets to see that, they get to see the stupid careless actions of teenagers and how they treat one another. It gives insight that every action has a reaction. In Hannah’s case, it wasn’t a good one.

Through Clay, the reader also gets to see that they didn’t get it, that they didn’t really see what they were doing to her, how they were treating her. We’re human, but as a species, we can be so cruel without even realizing it. Talking about relationships in relation to suicide is important because it’s often a leading cause of it. This isn’t a topic that should be talked about only when it happens, it should be talked about period, it should be addressed every day and not hidden under some rug. Ignoring it doesn’t solve the problem, but addressing it can certainly help. And that’s what’s so great about the novel. It addresses the problem and shows why suicide, for some, may be the only option left.

It’s a tough read because it’s so real because it talks about bullying, teen angst, and suicide. But again, that’ only serves to make the novel such a moving and poignant read. It’s powerful and moving and captivating. This is a novel that should be required reading in schools, in health class. This is a novel that could set the course and help people, really help people, who are in trouble and help those see the signs so that they can help. (★★★★★ | A+)

Product Details:

Pub Date: October 18, 2007

Page count: 288pp

Age Range: 14 & Over

ISBN: 978-1-5951-4171-2

Publisher: Razorbill

List Price:  $18.99

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