13 Reasons Why – Jay Asher
I’ve wanted to read this ever since it appeared in an article in the Daily Mail about a new genre called “sick lit”. Honestly, if the Daily Mail disapproves it’s generally something that I need to have in my life. I bought this on my kindle back in January when I was snowed in and subsequently ended up buying loads of books that I still haven’t gotten around to reading. In fact, I still have a huge list of books on my to read list, but I am slowly working through them, so you get bombarded with two posts today.
So, this is the story of Hannah, a teenage girl who commits suicide and leaves a note in the form of cassette tapes detailing the thirteen reasons why she killed herself. Goodreads does blurbs much better than I do so here it is:
Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier.On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out how he made the list.
This review is probably going to be a bit spoilery, so if you don’t want to know too much, stop reading whenever you see River Song!
Honestly, I loved the premise of this and I found it to be incredibly easy to devour. I kind of loved it, but it wasn’t perfect. I found the layout a bit strange, it was hard to sometimes decipher who was narrating at any one time, Clay or Hannah and I did have a slight characterisation issue with Hannah….
The suicide thing. I know this is sort of the main point of the book, but Hannah doesn’t read like someone with no other option but to take her own life, she’s not desperate, or even really that depressive. I’ve lived with someone with bipolar, I’ve lived with someone who has attempted suicide and I’ve had a bout of mental unwellness myself, Hannah didn’t come across as someone who was in anyway on the brink of suicide and as such I expected her to appear at the end and be all loljk!
Also, in regards to Clay, I wanted him to be one of the thirteen reasons. I wanted him to have done something. It would have been a much more interesting take on the story because I would have been conflicted about liking him despite the fact that he’d caused a teenage girl to take her life. The fact that he feels remorseful and guilty would have been much more powerful had he been a cause. Similarly, the anti bullying message would have been stronger had one of the bullies been the narrator, they would have been made accountable and had to take responsibility for Hannah’s death.
There was a great anti slut shaming campaign in this too which I adored, I’ve probably mentioned before how much I hate slut shaming and how I don’t believe that such nonsense should exist. It was something that bothered me a lot about Speechless and many other YA books that I’ve read, so I’m glad that it’s damaging affects were discussed here in some way.
I was surprised at the lack of trigger warnings, I know this is a book about suicide, but the fact that Hannah was continually sexually harrassed, assaulted and witnessed a rape should probably be known so it doesn’t cause anyone who has experience with any of those things distress.
So, in conclusion, I enjoyed this immensely and although it wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, it was still well worth the read.