Thirteen Reasons Why is a book about life, not death; it reveals just how fragile and complicated life can be.
Once I'd finished reading this book I had so many thoughts and feelings running through my head but somehow I couldn't quite manage to articulate the words to encapsulate how life affirming this book really was. Normally I would say what great book this was and how everyone should read it and only halfheartedly mean it, but if you only read one book I post about, I can honestly think of no book better. Books like Thirteen Reasons Why are few and far between in this life; there aren't many books that make you question the way you behave on a day to day behaviour or make you question life itself and the fragility of everything revealed at last. Even if you're not a fan of the plot you cannot deny the impact it has on you as a reader, even if you weren't a fan of Asher's style it would be ignorant to say you took nothing worthwhile from it.
It's not for me to say whether Hannah Baker was right to kill herself, or if she was even right for her to blame the 13, but I'm happy to give you thirteen things to think about and maybe you'll read it and figure it out for yourself because it is a truly gripping life changing read.
1. This is a Guilt Trip; you will be held accountable
"I hope you're ready, because I'm about to tell you the story of my life. More specifically, why my life ended. And if you're listening to these tapes, you're one of the reasons why" Albeit Hannah starts with a rather harsh accusation where she outright blames the 13 for her ending her life. I guess you could call it morbid curiosity reading this book, you know how it's going to end but the stories without a happy ending are just that much more meaningful.
2. The snowball effect "and the snowball keeps a rollin'"
Although Hannah's presentation can be slightly irrational it really is amazing how one instance can set of a series of unfortunate events (I used to love those books as a kid). I'm pretty sure Justin thought starting a rumour about Hannah was harmless how was he to know he'd condemn her to a reputation that would follow her until the end of her natural born life. That's the thing about snowballs something that was once of very little significance can build momentum, and for Hannah, become a very dangerous vicious circle which inevitably led to her own 'spiral of decline'. Justin's actions remind me of that song by Daniel Merriweather, Justin had no right to take "something perfect and painted it red". With that being said was Hannah right to put Justin on the tapes? Maybe, I am more inclined to say yes, yes he was a child but even children know right from wrong and what he did, what he allowed others to do was so very wrong.
3. Why do we believe in rumours when we don't know the truth?
I don't want to make an assumption, but I will anyway, it seems the human race is eager to believe the quite frankly malicious rumours we hear, it goes to show what fickle people we are. What if Clay hadn't heard the rumours, or what if he chose to not believe them, yes "everyone knows you can't disprove a rumour" but Clay could have been the one to save Hannah, any one of the the 13 or people Hannah came into contact with could have just been there for her. Whatever happened to human capacity for good? Sure "You can here rumours ... but ultimately can't know them" perhaps if the truth was known there wouldn't have needed to be the thirteen reasons why. The truth may not be as captivating but it is exactly that, the truth; as cliché as it sounds perhaps the tapes (Hannah's truth) set her free finally.
4. Why do we hold back what we really think because one little comment could change someone's life forever? Hopefully for the better.
Clay Jensen and I are two guilty culprits of this. Clay's infatuation bordering on the obscene could have been just the thing that could have saved Hannah from herself because "For the longest time ... it seemed that I was the only person who cared about me" no person is an island and sometimes we all just need a little positive affirmation just to know that there is somebody else other than ourselves who cares about us. The heartbreaking thing was that Clay did care but when it really mattered he stayed silent. There's time for silence in death but while we're alive and breathing let someone know that they're special or just that you're thinking about them. - as it is colloquially said 'It's not everyday be quiet' if someone was to have stopped Hannah from the "thoughts that aren't even true - that aren't even how we feel" who knows what that could have done to the snowball effect?
"Because if I hadn't been so afraid of everyone else, I might have told Hannah that someone cared. And Hannah might still be alive."
5. Why do we allow ourselves to give up?
If there's one thing I didn't like about Hannah Baker it would be I wish she could have had more perseverance, I can emphathise with what she endure because sometimes other teenagers can be really cruel but when Hannah "saw the possibilities of giving up ... even found hope in it" "my heart and my trust were in the process of collapsing". My faith in humanity was shattered, life is hard but death isn't any easier. What if Hannah hadn't been too weak to save Jessica, "first, you started a chain of events that ruined my [Hannah] life. Now, you were working on hers" could Jessica's own snowball effect been stopped.
6. Clay Jensen
Such a sweet boy, the only one out of the 13 with redeeming qualities. Clay is testament to the fact that Hannah didn't make the tapes to ridicule but to save others like her. After listening to Hannah's tapes Clay goes to school, with nothing but Hannah on his mind. "I had no idea how she felt about me. No idea who she really was. Instead, I believed what other people said about her. And I was afraid what they might say about me if they knew I liked her". Hannah's tapes made Clay more aware of the power he has,he becomes aware of his middle school crush who was showing signs of suicide but Clay's one word to her "Skye" may have saved her from becoming like Hannah, possibly giving hope to those who are about to let go of everything.
7. How aware are you of the way you treat others?
"Did you notice the scars you left behind"; "no one knows for certain how much impact they have on the lives of other people". If you are a very self obsessed person this book will definitely give you a rude awakening. You will have no other choice but to do a truck load of self evaluation and think about the effect your actions have on others
8. A very honest portrayal of suicide from the view of those left behind.
The people I felt most for in reading this book were: Clay and Tony. Clay and Tony were just collateral damage - so to speak- in Hannah's grand scheme of things. In Hannah's unstable state she rather selfishly burdens Tony with the knowledge that she is going to end her life; Tony being the likeable guy he is tries to warn her parents but it is too late. It could be that immense sense of guilt Tony is filled with that makes him determined to carry out her wishes. Tony is very much an unsung hero; Tony is the light at the end of this dark tunnel for Clay and his predecessors, he manages to help Clay get through the ordeal in a positive way and not in Hannah's footsteps.
9. The Dual Narration
Dual Narratives aren't the apple of my eye but for Asher I will make an exception. As it is Hannah's final words they are cutthroat at worst brutally honest at best, but the dual narrative gives you a great insight into Clay's character, as he hurts you hurt. To say because Hannah is recording her words at a time of heightened despair would be right but that takes nothing away from the reliability of her account, in fact it makes it even more honest because she has nothing to lose. Of course her emotions don't make her an objective narrator but this is her story, her personal subjective experience it doesn't have to be objective.
10. Is Thirteen Reasons why a suicide note?
Perhaps it is, in leaving the tapes Hannah did aim to a) increase the pain of the 13 to create guilt b) set out the reasons for her suicide c) express her thoughts and feelings that she couldn't express while she was alive, in that case yes it is a suicide note. Rather than looking at it as a suicide note, her note of death, it should be considered as beautiful psychologically thrilling rendition of the end of Hannah's life.
11. Reading this book made me a more observant person; this book will make you want to be a good person
Right after reading it I became fascinated by the way we humans interact with other(more so than my usual people watching self), the way we stigmatise death (even thought we don't mean to). Asher took the words out of my mouth and said it perfectly
"It's important to be aware of how we treat others. Even though someone appears to shrug off a sideways comment or not to be affected by a rumour, it's impossible to know everything else going on in that person's life, and how we might be adding to his/her pain. People do have an impact on the lives of others; thats undeniable." So why don't we make a positive impact on those around us, you.
12. Take what you want from this book and pass it on.
"You can't stop the future. You can't rewind the past. The only way to learn the secret ... is to press play"
13. Thirteen has been my number since birth but Jay Asher has brought a new meaning to 13 isn't an 'unlucky' number.
Maybe it was by chance that Asher's manuscript was accepted on his thirteenth attempt.
Thirteen is the number that tells you to not give up; to care about others; to speak out; to fight the dark and ugly things in the world rather than giving into the because ...
"everything affects everything"