Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (Spoiler Free)

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Read: August 7, 2012
Other Information: Library book, e-book, 138 pages, personal read

Book Blurb: Jay Asher’s brilliant first novel is a moving, highly original story that focuses on a set of audiotapes made by a girl before she committed suicide, and which explain to 13 people the reasons why she decided to end her life.

My Opinion: Wow. I am completely emotionally drained after reading this book. This was just… a fantastic read.

High school is becoming more and more of a proverbial minefield every day. I was bullied pretty mercilessly through my school life (teased, rumors, beaten up, had my belongings thrown out, bodily thrown in a trash can, etc.), and what some of these kids today go through is even worse than what was done to me. It is sickening. It is horrid. And it needs to STOP.

Thirteen Reasons Why sheds a light not only on some of the bullying actions of high school and some of the ways that cliques and rumors can severely hurt a person, but it also shines a light on mental illness in youth and how it has a stigma attached to it. Heck, any mental illness has a stigma attached to it these days. Even reading other reviews for this book, I was sickened. People saying that the (fictional) Hannah Baker should have just moved on instead of committing suicide, etc. For anyone suffering from depression, simply “moving on” or “getting over it” is not an option.

Now, the book is far from perfect on the front of mental illness crusaders and anti-bullying. Some of what happens to Hannah is bullying, and some of it is not. Some of it is just things that make her lose faith in herself, or in the human race as a whole. And some of it comes across as quasi-vigilante justice. From a plot perspective, I think it read (at times) like Hannah was trying to gossip-monger, or spread the truth as she saw fit. Which, if we are looking at the theme of the book, doesn’t make her any better than the people who bullied her in the first place. And the whole premise of essentially blaming the thirteen people takes this from a truly poignant story to a revenge story.

“An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind” as they say.

The prose was very interesting. The book is written in a dual-narriative style, bouncing back and forth between Hannah and Clay. At times it lended to the story really well, the abrupt back and forth of one line to Hannah and one line to Clay. But at other times, it got confusing. Especially when Clay was melting down over what he was hearing. Which he does a fair bit. In what seems to be more common, the prose is very light on desctiptives and focuses mainly on the story. This makes sense, as the story is being told in a voice that would make descriptives non-sensical.

The suspense was delicious. Jay Asher has a gift for suspense.

Bottom Line: I don’t really know what else to say about this book. Very heavy/potentially triggering themes.
If you or someone you know is being bullied or is showing signs of depression, reach out. Telling people “It gets better” does nothing to help them today. STOP bullying. It is NEVER ok. And while we are at it, stop the stigmas with mental illness.

Suicide Prevention Hotlines:
In the US: 1-800-784-2433 | In Canada: 1-800-668-6868