Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Review by Luke West
Rating: 5 stars
Genre: CYA, mystery
Publisher: Penguin/ Penguin Random House
Year of Publication: 2007 with a 2017 re-release to tie in with the Netflix series
We’ve all had those moments where we become so furious with someone that we’ve said hurtful things in the moment, that we perhaps didn’t necessarily mean. What we don’t consider is exactly how that spur of the moment attack adds to that person’s life story. Was it nothing to them? A moment they brushed off without another thought, or was it worse? Perhaps those words that took you a few seconds to blast out have affected this person for life. Maybe it stops them from achieving, gives them a complex, or is the last thought they have before they go to bed. Maybe, just maybe, it’s the cherry on the cake to a disastrous event. This is the message author Jay Asher is shouting from the roof tops. This is why we need to be better people. This is a YA masterpiece! This is 13 Reasons Why.
For those who live under a rock or don’t generally look in the YA section of the book shop (first of all why? Jokes. Everyone has their own taste but come on. YA is awesome!) and perhaps you haven’t noticed the Netflix adaptation of the book (shame on you 😉 ), but 13 Reasons Why was, and, is still a trending masterpiece (even if I’m coming in a few months after the craze) and let me tell you why (without spoilers, because, seriously, why do people do that?)
The story follows Hannah Baker, a young girl who is the butt of a school joke, a joke that may appear as innocent to some, but one of the leading reasons Hannah has committed suicide. Don’t worry, that wasn’t a spoiler. You as the reader know this is the outcome from the beginning, in fact, it says it in the synopsis. But the author keeps you gripped to the story via the good old classic tape recorder and the haunting, sometimes nice, sometimes brutal, sometimes innocent scenes in life that are detrimental to one girl who is suffering. A girl giving all the signs of needing help, yet nobody is noticing.
Clay Jensen receives a package in the mail without a return address. An envelope with a bunch of cassette tapes, recorded by Hannah, in the lead up to her death. She leaves detailed recordings of why she committed suicide, calling out everybody who was involved, layer by layer.
I was immediately drawn in by Clay, a kind hearted guy who seems to be different to all the other jerks at his school, but at the same time I’m waiting for him to appear on the tape, hoping that my opinion of him didn’t change.
I was gripped to Hannah’s story, wanted to jump through the pages and be a friend to her, be the person in her life she needed, to stop her doing from what she’d already done. It seemed so simple to me. I could have been the person to smile at her, asked her if she was okay or even had a coffee with her every now and then. This is all it would have taken for her life to potentially have a different outcome (or given her another chance to seeking help). WHY AREN’T WE NICER TO PEOPLE? AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! #rantover
The truth is I loved this book. Every single damn page of it. I love the writing style, the unusual but pleasant format (two different viewpoints at the same time – it’s surprisingly easy to follow) and the characters. I hurt when they hurt, laughed when they laughed and cried when they cried. I closed the last page wanting to be a better person. Exactly what this author set out to achieve. This should be in school curriculums. I keep hearing stories of parents complaining about it. Why must we shelter real life issues? We are the ones making these topics so controversial that people can’t talk about them. How about reading the book or watching the show with your teens? How about teaching them the real meaning here? How about actually explaining that you are there for them or there are places they can go if they ever need help? Okay sorry, I know I said rant over but wow this really works me up. I’m sidetracking.
5 out of 5 from me, the guy who likes chips with extra chicken salt.
- This story does have major trigger warnings regarding depression, anxiety, bullying, suicide and rape, so please read with caution & safeguard your own mental health.
- People that require crisis support (including anyone having suicidal thoughts) can contact many places for help, including Lifeline on 13 11 14
- Readers should check out Kylie’s mental health month over on her blog. Me, and others discuss our personal journeys with mental health and the challenges we all face.