Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

I heard many things about ‘Thirteen Reasons Why’ over the last few months, mostly thanks to the controversial Netflix series. The controversy seems to start not so much from the topic, as it does from the handling of said topic.

13 reasons whyBefore actually sitting down to read Thirteen Reasons Why, I was bombarded by either very positive reviews, or very negative reviews regarding this story. I found a sense in everyone’s opinions, but the extremely opposite opinions left me confused. I realized then that the only way to find solace was to read the book myself, and get my own opinion.

I have finished the book now, but still find myself indecisive between approval and disapproval. This book looks at depression and suicide in a fairly honest and candid way, and shows how rumour and hearsay can affect someone’s life.

The book is very well written and enticing. I finished it in two days. But I caught myself frowning quite frequently, not because I was angry at the harsh things the main character went through (which she did), but because half the time I didn’t like her, not even a little.

I liked Clay from the start, but with Hannah I could barely sympathize. My problem with Hannah is not that she was traumatized by what she experienced; she had every right to be traumatized, and every right to ask for help and be helped. My problem is how, in some strange way, she came off selfish, I felt that her revenge was misdirected at best. I’m not so sure it’s a good thing that I didn’t feel devastated by Hannah’s suicide. Many people on Hannah’s tapes deserved her little payback but many did not. Lots of these people did things that, though unkind, did not warrant this heavy weight on their shoulders, Clay especially. To a lesser degree, Hannah Baker lacks empathy herself in this story and is rather self-absorbed. What was worse that Hannah stood back and let another girl get raped. True, she was dizzy and not the rapist herself, but she didn’t even bother to make sure the girl was okay after it was over. Then she made her one of the recipients of the tapes, one of the “reasons” Hannah had to kill herself. And the guy who deserved to carry this guilt around more than anybody else got off completely scott-free.

Viewed this way, I don’t like Hannah, or how the story was handled. However, maybe it is a good thing after all that the author made Hannah so unsympathetic. If people relate too much to her character, especially those going through depression, they may find her choice to take her life very appealing. I also considered how Hannah’s apparent selfishness was a result of her downward spiral. Depression changes people; it tends to bring out the worst in them. It clouds judgement and wreaks havoc on the body. So, when I consider things this way, I am pleased with the author’s work.

I did not LOVE the story, but it made me reflect. I am left with mixed fillings about this book that I am yet to digest. However I am not fully sure if I would recommend it for everyone. I would probably suggest it for teenagers, just to demonstrate how badly things can turn as a result of bullying.

“You can’t stop the future.
You can’t rewind the past.
The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play”

After reading “13 Reasons Why” I tried watching the TV show and gave up on episode 2. The book is better (as it usually turns out to be).

My rating : 4/5

PS :  Suicide! It’s a word we often don’t like to say, but should. The longer we ignore it the longer it will remain stigmatized–and the more people we will lose as a result.

If you are envisioning suicide, DON’T ignore it. If you ask somebody for help and they turn you away, ask somebody else. And keep asking. Don’t stop. With 7 billion people in the world, there is somebody somewhere who will hear you. If you have to comb through entire cities or countries to find them, do it. It is okay to not be okay. It is also okay to fight for your survival. Your life is worth it.

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