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Book Review: Thirteen Reasons Why

Posted Nov 01 2012 10:00am

Hey there people! Today I am posting a quick review of the book Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher as part of Peanut Butter Finger’s Book Club . Every month Julie from Peanut Butter Fingers picks a book to read and then bloggers from across the web post their reviews. This month’s book of choice was Thirteen Reasons Why, and it was a good one! You can read of all my past book reviews here .

I also owe you guys reviews of a few other books I have read recently (e.g.,  Insurgent, Sarah’s Key, The Other Boleyn Girl, and Memoirs of a Geisha- oops!) but lately I have spent more time developing yummy recipes for you guys instead Winking smile However, if you’re interested in reading more book reviews, leave me a note in the comments below and I promise to make them a higher priority. Anyway, here’s my review!

Overview

ThirteenReasons Thirteen Reasons Why is the sad story of teenager Hannah Baker who moved to a new high school, becomes the victim of false rumors, and eventually kills herself because she feels alone and depressed. Before killing herself, Hannah makes a tape recording explaining what she is going through and why she has decided to end her life. The tapes identify thirteen people who have affected her life and made her feel so miserable and alone.

Before Hannah dies, she mails the tapes to the first person on her list, and asks that they be passed on to the next person. She explains that she made copies of the tapes and if they are not passed on, they will be released to the public.

Some of the events that she discusses in the tapes are illegal and reveal dark secrets, so the tapes get passed along from person to person. Hannah wanted people to understand what she was going through, and the tapes were the best way she could show people what happened in her life.

The story is told through the perspective of Clay, a classmate of Hannah’s who is the only person on the tapes who didn’t do anything to hurt her. Instead Clay is the “good guy” who could have saved Hannah but didn’t know how. Clay had always had a crush on Hannah but was too shy to act upon it. The one time Clay did try to get closer to Hannah, she pushed him away. Because of Clay’s feelings for Hannah, the reader sees Hannah in a positive light and gets to understand her better. Clay listens to the tapes, one by one, and soon the reader understands what happened to Hannah and why she decided to end her life.

In the end, the moral that I got from the story is to act upon your feelings and never wait for the last minute because you might be too late. Always pay attention to how your actions are affecting someone else. You may think the things you say are not a big deal, but when piled onto whatever else someone might be going through, your little joke may just be the last straw. Always treat people with kindness and if you think someone is struggling in life, reach out to them to see if they need help.

My Thoughts

When I first started this book, I have to admit I was rolling my eyes in annoyance. The book starts off talking about freshman in high school and how so-and-so hooked up with so-and-so and that made them cool. It seemed like a typical book about high schoolers, complete with peppy cheerleaders, obscene house parties, guys in cool cars, etc. It honestly seemed like a book I would have enjoyed when I was twelve and I almost put it down.

However, as I got further into the book, I started realizing its true meaning. It wasn’t about who hooked up with who or who was popular; it was about a girl who was struggling and no one was able to understand what she was going through. No one was able to help. The book had so many beautiful quotes that made me feel sad for this character and realize how unhappy she was. It seemed amazing to me that this girl had absolutely no one to turn to in her time of need.

In my high school experience, I was definitely one of the “peppy cheerleaders.” I was happy in high school, had plenty of friends, and had pretty much everything I wanted. I remember being friendly to everyone but now on second thought, could I have done more? Could I have reached out to people that seemed to be struggling along and helped them? Was I ever unintentionally one of someone’s “reasons why?”

Upon reflection, I can only think of one clear time when I went out of my way to help someone in need. This guy who used to go to my high school started a blog a few years ago and posted a link to it on facebook. He and I had never been close friends, but I knew who he was so I clicked the link. What I saw on his blog shocked me. He seemed depressed and often talked about how he had no job, no friends, and no purpose in life. I remember feeling scared that he might commit suicide. I didn’t want to be the one who had read his blog and done nothing about it.

So, I contacted him via facebook. I asked if he wanted someone to talk to and suggested we could be like pen pals. I remember he thought I was joking and asked why I would want to talk to him, and I just explained that it seemed like he needed a friend. We swapped long emails back and forth for months- never covering any really serious topics, just keeping it light.

Sometimes he would tell me about problems with his family or job and I would always try to give positive advice. I liked to think that if something was really bothering him he would have felt comfortable talking to me about it, even though he was thousands of miles away from me and we had never even been close in high school. Through the years we have stopped talking as frequently, although I do still hear from him from time to time. He says he is busy with his new job and new life, and I am happy for him now that he seems to be in a better place than he once was. I like to think that by being there for him, maybe I helped him out a little.

This book reminded me that little things like that can make a big difference in a person’s life, and sometimes you just have to be on the lookout for someone who needs help.

You may have read the news recently about Amanda Todd. She was a young teenager in Canada who was a victim of bullying. Before killing herself, she left a video behind on YouTube explaining what she went through. You can read her story and watch the video here .

It amazes me that I heard about Amanda Todd at the same time that I started reading Thirteen Reasons Why, since the two stories are so similar. I don’t take coincidences lightly and have to admit I am wondering if this is some sort of sign. Is there someone I know who needs help? Should I start looking at all of my friends and acquaintances more closely? I am probably reading way too much into this and it will probably turn out to be nothing, but I want to be on my guard more than ever to see if there is anyone in my life who seems like they are in trouble that I may be able to help.

This book may not have been the best book I have read in a while, but that’s ok. It reminded me of an important lesson that so many of us tend to forget.

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