Spoilers will be discussed. Cuz that’s how I roll. For those who haven’t read, I have a few quibbles here and there, but honestly it’s a quick read, a thought provoking story, and in general, very very good. I wish I had read it in high school. So read it. Let me know what you think. I recommend. Grade B.

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher

This is what I’d call a thought provoking book. You leave it with all the answers you need, but you wish you had more questions. You’re not quite done yet. You don’t know what you feel, or what to do about it.

For me, it was a feeling of helplessness. Maybe that’s too strong. I didn’t feel helpless, but I wish I could have done something to help Hannah. There were 13 points in time that could have changed her mind, that could have saved her. 13 failed opportunities to save a life. It sucks no one took advantage of them.

I’m so happy that Clay was not one of those propelling reasons. I was sure his inaction was going to be one of the reasons she felt she had no friends. Maybe visiting him in the ticket booth at the theater was her way of reaching out, and she thought he was rejecting her. I don’t know. So glad that it wasn’t that, because as you got to know Clay, you knew he was a good person. He would have done anything to help Hannah, had he known.

And that’s the reaction that killed me. When Clay responded to Hannah with phrases like that. Saying he would’ve helped her, that he cared. It was heart-breaking.

But that’s how life is sometimes. Sometimes we see that people need help, but don’t want to overstep our boundaries. And a lot of times, that’s for good reason. But sometimes, when someone is showing certain warning signs, certain calls for help, it’s okay to ask those extra questions. It’s okay to ask if they’re okay, if they need help. To insist that it’s not a bother, that they aren’t wasting our time.

If anything, this book taught me that those small gestures, the ones we overlook, can make a huge difference. Especially in high school, where teens are so high strung and just want to fit in.

My main quibble with the novel is that many of the male characters are budding sexual harassers. I know guys like that exist in high school, but not every single person you know. I feel that Hannah was dealt a bad hand, and it’s by all means possible that this sort of things would happen, but it seems a bit on the extreme. And the tape was about these people, taking place over a period of years. So the stories aren’t representative of the student body, I realize. But these are the people Hannah knew. And that sucks. If she had met the right sort of people, started with a different group, maybe things would have worked out.

And isn’t that the point of the story? Clay realizes very early on that if one or two of those events hadn’t happened, had Alex not unintentionally hurt Hannah, she might still me here. One idiotic act of collateral damage killed a girl. I think that’s the main message. Don’t hurt people that one’s obvious. You don’t need a book to realize that. But don’t forget about the little things that can damage someone. Don’t neglect the little actions. They may seem irrelevant to you, but they can have huge repercussions for someone else.

Hannah was one of those repercussions. She was the collateral damage. And the tapes are making people realize that. I liked the tapes. Hannah said many times, this wasn’t to humiliate them. It wasn’t vindictive. It was a way to open their eyes. She wanted to them to see these faults so they wouldn’t hurt anyone else.

My final piece on this, is that I really wish Hannah had survived. I don’t think it would have hurt the message of the novel. The horrible things Hannah went through were enough. She deserved something more. Attempted suicide to me is just as severe as suicide. The message is still there. But the original ending had too much of an exposition dump (do we need to know who started the rumors of her death? Sometimes less is more), so and it wasn’t fitting. But I did like the idea better. Just knowing it exists, makes me feel better. In my mind, I can say she did survive. But the original ending was good too. Clay works up the courage to talk to Skye, because she may very well be contemplating the same thing Hannah did. I didn’t take it as a romantic thing. I took it as, I didn’t push hard enough to get to know Hannah, see her warning signs. I’m not making that mistake again. I liked it. It was fitting.

I’m excited for the Netflix adaptation. The author seemed heavily involved, so here’s to hoping it’s just as powerful as the book!

Grade B

Confused by my grading scale, click here to find out how the grades relate to star-ratings you’re more used to seeing.