Thoughts on the Novel “Thirteen Reason Why”

I read a  powerful novel a couple years ago and just reread it yesterday: “Thirteen Reason Why” by Jay Asher.

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From Amazon: When Clay Jenson plays the casette tapes he received in a mysterious package, he’s surprised to hear the voice of dead classmate Hannah Baker. He’s one of 13 people who receive Hannah’s story, which details the circumstances that led to her suicide. Clay spends the rest of the day and long into the night listening to Hannah’s voice and going to the locations she wants him to visit. The text alternates, sometimes quickly, between Hannah’s voice (italicized) and Clay’s thoughts as he listens to her words, which illuminate betrayals and secrets that demonstrate the consequences of even small actions. Hannah, herself, is not free from guilt, her own inaction having played a part in an accidental auto death and a rape. The message about how we treat one another, although sometimes heavy, makes for compelling reading. Give this to fans of Gail Giles psychological thrillers. by Dobrez, Cindy

This book is controversial, some people find it powerful and real while others find fault in it and find it unrealistic. I read this entire book in one sitting both time – I was engrossed, I was overcome by emotions, I found myself empathizing with Hannah. I found this book to be powerful and filled with reality.

It’s critics state that the reasons Hannah commits suicide for would not be real reasons. That they were trivial at best. I will tell you now that as someone who was once suicidal, her reasons were quite valid. When one thing comes after another, and it all affects how others see you, treat you,and how it changes how you see yourself, I found Hannah’s story and reasons to be more true than anything else I have ever read.

I would highly recommend everyone read this book, young and old alike. It really helps you see how sometimes what we do or say affects others in ways we can’t possible imagine, especially when it is added together with other things we don’t even know about. To me, the point of Hannah’s story is that we be aware of our words and actions as we never know what someone else is going through. We never know what might send someone over the edge. It also shows the power of bullying. I saw so much of myself in this book. It makes me wonder how things may have changed in my life if someone had just reached out. Luckily, I made it though the traumatic times. But now, when I see people, especially those with sadness hidden in their eyes, I try to give just a simple ‘hello’ or something to show someone cared enough to give even the smallest gesture.

If you ever get to read this book or have already, I would love to know your thoughts.

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8 thoughts on “Thoughts on the Novel “Thirteen Reason Why”

  1. Everyone is a critic. A Million Little Pieces is the best book I have ever read. Not because it’s a memoir, it didn’t have to be. It is the only book that gave me insight into what tormented by Sister before she passed away. I will take your recommendation, because I think gaining perspective is always a reason to learn.

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    1. I will look into that book. Thank you for the recommendation! I don’t know anyone personally that has committed suicide (a coupe classmates in high school but I didn’t really know them) but I know I almost did once. I have a pretty good understanding of some of the thoughts that go with it.

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  2. My only problem with 13 Reasons Why was that maybe other young women would relate so much to it, that they’d do the same thing. I was afraid Jay Asher had gotten it so right that they’d focus on the ‘getting revenge by suicide’ (which is NOT what I think she does, or why she does it – it’s just that’s how many of the people get the tape feel) and think that’s appropriate. I think it’s a great book. Like you, I think it perfectly highlights the ‘snowballing’ effect. I think it shows that we need to be so much kinder to others, because we don’t know if we’re the trigger, or if we’re the beginning.
    Great blog!

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    1. I actually agree with you 100% – I sincerely hope that a teen doesn’t take this book and get ideas from it – revenge is never a good cause for anything. I have to think though, for myself, that most people, teens, who read it feel more like someone finally understands them. I also hope the book gives them hope because it shows that there were people who truly did care about Hannah, she just didn’t see it.

      My life has been the snowball affect, and it did give me thoughts of death once upon a time. I got through it though and want others to as well.

      I know everyone is a critic and everyone has there own opinions, of which I have read many. I think the only ones that bother me are the ones who say that Hannah’s reasons would never be reasons someone would commit suicide and I cry fowl on that! (A review was just posted on Amazon this morning from another psychologist stating this). I think, based on my own life, that her reasons are beyond valid. I so understand the pain she was in with one thing happening after another, with feeling alone, people lying about you and others believing those lies – these are the very things that happened to me and I thought of suicide! I just don’t think anyone should diminish anyone’s reasons.

      I agree with you too that revenge was not her goal, I think the tapes where her way of working through everything. It was also of course the only way to tell her story for the book.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree too. And I think it can be surprising why people commit suicide – when you’re a teenager, in particular, it’s even harder to see that “life can go on”, and it’s not much easier for adults going through the same transition. I think when you keep getting ‘hit’ and you feel like no one’s supporting you, or on your side, what other choice do you have? (I mean, when you’re really depressed.) It’s easy to say that that person’s stupid, or selfish. But it’s not that way at all. Sometimes people just want the pain to stop.

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      2. Exactly! I view suicide in many different ways but the one way I don’t is when people view it as a cowardly act. I just can’t agree with that. It comes from when the pain feels too great and it seems like nothing is left – cowardice doesn’t not come from that. I know everyone is allowed to their own opinions of course, I just have a hard time with that one. Depression does not see strength versus cowardice, it only sees pain. I think too many people don’t realize this. Thank you for such a thoughtful reply.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. No problems! Your post was brilliant, and I completely agree with you!! A lot of people don’t understand depression, I think. And I hope that changes!

        Liked by 1 person

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