This debut novel by Jay Asher, Thirteen Reasons Why, was first released in 2007. I only decided to read it 10 years later. Although I have known about this book for a couple of years already, I only decided to give it a go now because of the NETFLIX series of the same name, based on this book, which was produced by Selena Gomez. (I will definitely watch it!)
I found that the premise was interesting and the story was told in dual points of view simultaneously which is quite refreshing. Most of the books that I’ve read that have dual perspectives dedicate one chapter per person so although that creates more of an in depth narration of each perspective, the way Jay Asher presented the voices of the two main characters, Hannah Baker and Clay Jensen, was highly engaging that it feels more conversational and intimate.
For those who have not read the summary of this book yet, it’s about Hannah Baker, a high school student who commits suicide. Before her death, she made recordings on a cassette tape which she sent out to those people whom she believed to have pushed her to end her own life. One of the recipients of the tapes is Clay Jensen, the other protagonist of the story.
The book opens with Clay sending out the cassette package to the next person on Hannah Baker’s list. She sent out the cassette tapes to the first person on her list where she details what that person did to her that made a snowball effect on her life which eventually made her decide to commit suicide. It was her intention to make the cassettes be passed on from one person to the next until it reaches the 13th person mentioned in the tape, thus the 13 Reasons Why (she killed herself).
What I liked about this book was Jay Asher’s style which was not only easily comprehensible but also relatable. You could empathize with Hannah or her “friends” or the people mentioned in her tape. Either way, it’s something that would leave an impression on you long after you’ve finished reading it.
I don’t want to talk about details from the book as it would ruin the whole experience. However, I do have some afterthoughts after having read the book.
What happened to Hannah Baker is devastating and frustrating at the same time. The worst part about this type of death is there is always that part of you that looks for “signs” or “clues” whether you could have done something to prevent it from happening and even more so frustrating is that even if you do realize it, you realize it a little too late. Such events are filled with regrets and what-ifs which makes it that much harder to move on.
The topic of “suicide” is a very serious matter that requires attention especially since the number of suicide rates in teens and young adults are surprisingly large. From Hannah’s experience, it shows that it’s not just one reason or a singular incident that pushes one over the edge. It’s actually the small details that have a snowball effect on one’s life that if left unattended, can push one over the edge of the cliff. Realizing this makes you think of the little things you do that might have a massive effect on other people. In this regard, it reminded me of the book “Everything I Never Told You” by Celeste Ng which I read last year. It’s the things we don’t say that make the most impact on other people and that makes it terrifying. To think that how much of the unsaid things could have saved a relationship, a friendship, a life.
I do not condone suicide. I will not justify Hannah’s actions. Were her problems too much for her to handle? Maybe. Even so, I believe that every problem has a solution. The solution may not be easy, it might even seem impossible, but there is always a solution. Suicide is never the answer. If such thoughts enter your mind, seek help. There’s no shame in admitting it. Find your solution because if suicide is your answer, you have not found it.
All in all, 13 Reasons Why is a must-read. It might be a dark-themed story but it reflects real-life. It’s close to reality as it can happen to anyone, anyone we know and if this book can make us want to be a better person just so we can help prevent other people from falling into the same fate as Hannah Baker, then this book has done its job well.
NinthMelody rating: 8.75/10