I have a great deal of respect for Bloggers Unite and their endless search to bring the dramas and problems of the World to the attention of everyone on the Internet — which means pretty much everyone. They reach out through the blogging community. I usually step up with Bloggers Unite on my blog, HomespunHonolulu.com for things like Freedom of the Press and Literacy. But this one fit better here.
Yesterday, September 10th, was World Suicide Prevention Day! Okay, so I’m a day late. It’s never too late until we miss a chance to prevent this! We need to be aware of what is going on with those around us, we need to try to understand and, above all, we need to listen so that we can hear.
I saw this event coming, then I saw the book. I thought, “Hey, a perfect match!” What I did not expect was my own reaction. Getting my hands on the book, quickly, presented its own challenges but I’ll talk about that on the other blog with a link back to this review. Later.
While reading Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, and following the story of the dead protagonist, I kept asking things like, “What is wrong with you?” Why does a girl, Hannah is her name, who is so young, pretty, and intelligent decide to take her own life? I was anxious to know, “Why?”
Growing increasingly annoyed, I kept saying, ” But, that’s normal!” as things happened to her. As I continued to grow angry with this young girl, I could not help but think, “You’d better come up with something better than this!” As irritating as her thoughts are from time to time, it’s up the the reader to understand and to grasp Hannah’s issues. Ultimately, for me, it was an internal isolation and loneliness — that feeling you get when you’re in a room full of people but you’re still lonely. It was not a case of, “Nobody will help me!” It was a case of, “Nobody wants to help me.” In her mind anyway.
This book is well written and it is one that picks up speed as it goes. You need to find out WHY? There are two “voices” moving throughout the story as you “listen” to, not only the “voice” of the dead girl telling her story, but to the thoughts of the young man, Clay, who is unwillingly graced with a set of cassette tapes where the story unfolds for him, and for us. The reader can choose to connect to either one of those voices, or both. I ended up hearing them both.
Clay had a crush on Hannah. Hannah is dead. Clay is one of the Thirteen Reasons Why. What? Why? Exactly. The plot thickens and you have to keep reading.
Cassettes? Yep. Using props to propel a story is something every writer needs. What they use, and how they use it, is part of their craft. If you think about the feather in the movie, Forest Gump, you may remember the warm feeling that washed over you at the end of the move when that feather appeared on the screen again. I know that I will never look at a cassette tape the same way again. Clever use and a perfect choice, Jay!
Jay Asher can slap me for this but I don’t care. As I was reading I felt what he wrote and I connected with his characters (even though I’m much older). Isn’t that what being a writer is all about? I give this book a grade of “A” for pissing me off, making me laugh, and most importantly, for making me cry. I would give the book an “A+” but I still need a good reason why, Hannah!
Young adult? I would recommend this book to all parents, all teachers, all counselors, and all social workers. I don’t know that I would suggest it for students — unless it was a class project where everyone talked about it and wrote a paragraph for their teacher everyday. I would be too afraid of the hormones of my students, I think. But, that’s just me. I would love to use it as an assignment, if I were a teacher, but I would be so afraid. The author is braver than I!
Good job, Mr. Asher! When’s the next book? Facebook says he’s working on it!
Thirteen Reason Why
by Jay Asher
Published in 2007
by Razorbill, Penguin Group
ISBN No. 978-1-59514-171-2