Thirteen Reasons Why is Jay Asher’s debut novel for teenagers, and it’s a very beautiful addition to the psychological Young Adult books which convey a very difficult and strong message. This book is difficult to read — and that is not criticism but a compliment — because Thirteen Reasons Why deals with peer pressure, adolescent angst, drugs, and many other factors that can make growing up unbearable for many teenagers.
“A lot of you cared, just not enough.”
– Jay Asher, Thirteen Reasons Why
Thirteen Reasons Why is about the aftermath of Hannah Baker’s suicide, and the way Asher has portrayed her anger and hidden hurt is remarkable.
Clay Jensen is an intelligent teenager who finds a package on his porch with no return address. Inside the package are seven cassettes, each side marked and counting up to the number thirteen with the last side blank. He must listen to all of them because in it are all the reasons which led to the death of Hannah Baker, who is ironically Clay’s secret crush. He is supposed to follow the map and has to pass on the cassettes to the next person once he’s listened to them; it dawned on me how often we hurt others, very casually and never considering the way we might have affected them. Jay Asher very finely delivered his message: Everyone is responsible for their actions, and our actions can also affect others.
The cassettes very amazingly tackle the reasons behind Hannah’s death, and Clay learns a lot of things about himself and others and about how things they did to their classmates triggered her actions and ruined her.
“A flood of emotions rushes into me. Pain and anger. Sadness and pity. But most surprising of all, hope.”
Thirteen Reasons Why does not offer easy answers. It asks you questions; it makes you question your own actions and words. But it offers one very important thing: hope. Thirteen Reasons Why is an important book that delivers a strong message. It is for those who take teenagers and their issues seriously; it is for those who know and understand how it feels to be a teenager.
Hannah Baker used to write poetry in a diary, including the poem below:
Soul Alone by Hannah Baker
I meet your eyes
you don’t even see me
You hardly respond
when I whisper
Could be my soul mate
two kindred spirits
Maybe we’re not
I guess we’ll never
My own mother
you carried me in you
Now you see nothing
but what I wear
People ask you
how I’m doing
You smile and nod
don’t let it end
underneath God’s sky and
don’t just see me with your eyes
this mask of flesh and bone and
for my soul
My favorite part from this book :
“That’s what I love about poetry. The more abstract, the better. You’re not sure what the poet is talking about. You may have an idea, but you cant be sure. Not a hundred percent. Each word, specifically chosen, could have a million different meanings. Is it a stand-in — a symbol for another idea? Does it fit into a larger, more hidden, metaphor?
…I hated poetry until someone showed me how to appreciate it. He told me to see poetry as a puzzle. It’s up to the reader to decipher the code, or the words, based on everything they know about life and emotions.”
– Jay Asher, Thirteen Reasons Why
The lesson Thirteen Reasons Why taught me:
Sometimes, we become very self-centered and rigid. We care but not enough. We are sorry but not enough. We judge others, and we have absolutely no idea what they are going through. So please, please before you throw an insult at someone’s face or say a remark about someone’s appearance, just imagine receiving it back, and please be careful. Your words, actions and choices will eventually come back to you.