I recently just finished reading Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher, and it is just outstanding. It is a book that will stay with you for days, it will cement itself in your literary repertoire.
There are two characters at the heart of this book, Clay Jensen and Hannah Baker. At the start of the book, we know pretty immediately that Hannah has killed herself, and she has mailed a shoebox full of thirteen cassette tapes with extremely specific, cryptic, and eerie instructions:
The rules are pretty simple. There are only two. Rule number one: You listen. Number two: You pass it on. Hopefully, neither one will be easy for you.
When you’re done listening to all thirteen sides – because there are thirteen sides to every story – rewind the tapes, put them back in the box, and pass them on to whoever follows your little tale. And you, lucky number thirteen, you can take the tapes straight to hell. Depending on your religion, maybe I’ll see you there.
In case you’re tempted to break the rules, understand that I did make a copy of these tapes. Those copies will be released in a very public manner if this package doesn’t make it through all of you.
This was not a spur-of-the-moment decision.
Do not take me for granted…again.
You are being watched.
What are the thirteen sides to this story? Or better yet, WHO are the thirteen sides to this story? The popular girl who befriends everyone? The quiet crush in the corner? Th peeping tom? The teacher who didn’t pick up the signs? The parent who looked the other way? The boy who assaulted multiple girls in the party? The mastermind behind the yearbook superlatives? That, is what this story is about. Thirteen reasons, and thirteen people, that contributed to the misery and destruction of a young girl. It’s heartbreaking, it’s eye-opening, and it’s terrifying.
Asher reminds us of how cruel teenagers can be, how every action has a reaction, and that adults and children have to be aware of those around them. If you suspect anyone is having suicidal thoughts, well, you don’t wait for them to reach out to you – you reach out to them. Even if it seems like they don’t want help, Asher urges us to fight to break through the wall, and through whoever is drowning in their own sadness some sort of life jacket.
It’s a must read for teenagers, for teachers, and for adults.
Get it now.
Live, Love, Learn,
The Write Teacher