Friday, July 8, 2011

Thirteen Reasons Why

by Jay Asher

This isn't really a book to like or dislike because of the seriousness of the topic: teen suicide. I am sure suicide should be addressed more openly and I believe Asher was trying to create a discussion starter in Thirteen Reasons Why. As I read this book, I tried to look at it from the perspective intended (Young Adult) and I think the author did present many stressors faced by teens, from fitting in, drinking, drugs and sex to loneliness. Two characters narrate the story, often in alternating paragraphs or sentences.

The main thing that makes this a bit disturbing is that one narrator, Hannah, has committed suicide and has left her story behind in a series of tapes for a number of her peers that she "blamed" for her decision to end her life. The other narrator, Clay, is one of those on the list listening to the tapes as the story of Hannah's troubles unfold. Although I had trouble with Hannah's blame game, it is sadly probably realistic from a teen's point of view. She just took common high school incidents very hard and couldn't get past them, so they started piling up beyond where she could be positive about anything and even to the point of self-sabotage.

One of the main messages I took from this book is our responsibility to others, how our actions affect the lives of others, often in ways we might never realize. Also how important it is for us to be sensitive and maybe even looking for those in trouble.

I honestly can't say if I would want my teen to read this book because I think it gave too much credence to the idea of a suicide victim blaming others and didn't get to a point of how that person could face and deal with their distress.

This was our July book club selection and I realized it can also count toward my book challenge as a book with a number in the title. Killed two birds with one stone!

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