Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Thirteen Reasons Why

Jay Asher's debut young adult novel, Thirteen Reasons Why, chronicles the causes of teen Hannah Baker's suicide through a series of cassette tapes she left behind prior to her death. The tapes are passed one by one to those involved in her decision to kill herself--changing their lives, and I'm sure the lives of many readers. The book takes place as Clay, a love interest of Hannah's, listens to the tapes and follows her footsteps around their town. Hannah's haunting voice keeps Clay moving from place to place, unable to change what has already occurred, but now able to understand why (inspired by Asher's trip to a museum with audio guided tours).

Hannah's reasons, when taken individually, may often seem trivial. I do not read a lot of young adult books, but I think that this one in particular served as an excellent reminder that for those who survived the trials and tribulations of young adulthood, these problems look minuscule. But when you are still surrounded by them on a day to day level, and not as emotionally developed (through no fault of your own), this stuff is big! The book really hits the point that while one's actions may seem small and harmless, they can snowball into something much greater. It is a good message for any teen to read that their actions have consequences, and they should be careful how they treat others. Hopefully teens reading the book who are experiencing suicidal thoughts will also take comfort in knowing that they are not alone in their problems, and go seek some help before it is too late for them.

P.S. For another look at the impact of teen bullying, I would highly recommend Jodi Picoult's Nineteen Minutes. The Pact is also great, but I am rereading that right now, so will give it a post of its own later. (I love all of Picoult's work, and would encourage people to read any of her books, but this one is particularly poignant given the subject matter.)

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