Friday, March 18, 2011

A week of reviews day four (13 reasons why)

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Hannah is dead. Nobody understands why. Then the tapes arrive. Clay starts to listen to them. Hannah's voice explains, on thirteen sides, why. The thirteen people that brought her to this place. The role Clay played.

It is really hard for me to read about or talk about suicide. I don't imagine it's easy for anyone, but I have my own reasons for treating that subject in a special way.

For keeping it at a distance.

This book was difficult for me, because I worried about the way Asher would treat it. I didn't think he'd be light about it, but I worried he'd kind of go through the paces and then be trite about it.

I'm the type of person that watches a teen movie-- you know the ones with the big party scene. It's fun. Lots of laughs. Everyone's excited and psyched about this awesome party- WOOT- and all I can think about is: "who is going to clean this place up when the party is over". I have trouble NOT thinking about the consequences. I have trouble not thinking about the people off-screen and how the events are going to impact them.  

 I didn't warm to this book until the very end. I just can't read about suicide without wishing the whole time that things are going to change. That it's going to work out. That it won't happen.

But that's not reality. That didn't happen here, but I think in writing about this topic-- and by exploring what brought this character to this place in her life, Asher takes on a whole host of issues. He shines a light on things like reputation. About how we let rumors influence how we treat people. How we shy away from the issues that aren't pretty. On how we avoid unpleasantness. On the idea that one little act can lead to another little act, which can influence another little moment.

I think he does it well. He does it carefully.

I hope it works like a beacon to any kids who are going through the things Hannah is dealing with. And I hope it leads them away from her fate.

I recommend this book.

Have you read it? What did you think? 


  1. I haven't read it yet, but every one of my GT students who read it LOVED LOVED LOVED LOVED it.

  2. I have to admit, I've been wary of this book so far. I read the sample on my kindle, but a part of me feels that I know how it will end--because of course the awful part has taken place before the book even begins, so the story on the tapes is leading right to it. That said, I've heard the writing's beautiful. I'm waiting to feel brave enough to read it.

  3. I loved this book. I'm sure many teens (and adults) think of suicide and school shootings as things that happen in isolation from them or their actions (unless they turn out to be a victim of a shooting). I love that this book makes those things everybody's problem.

    I had an easier time with this book knowing up front she was already dead. It's harder for me to deal with a character who's dying or might die.

  4. I read this book and I really liked it. I found that once I started reading it I couldn't put it down. Such a good book. Jay Asher was one of the keynote speakers at the Minnesota SCBWI conference last October so hearing about his steps to publication was pretty cool.

  5. I read this book and actually recommended it to a student that was going through some hard times last year. He told me it really helped him.

  6. It's on my TBR list, I'm curious to see how it was handled too.
    - Sophia.

  7. This book is sitting in my to read pile. When I read the beginning pages in the store, I was hooked. I wonder what my reaction will be once I read it.

  8. Although I found the story compelling and the writing powerful, I have mixed feelings about the book.

    It's definitely something teens should be encouraged to discuss after they read.

  9. I haven't read it, but it sounds like a compelling and/or difficult read, esp. for those who have been affected by suicide in some way.


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