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  • Writer's pictureKara Chatham

Novel | Thirteen Reasons Why - Jay Asher


I know I'm tardy to the party on this novel because it was published in 2007, but...Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. Oh my. Such a powerful read! It deals with so many things that are considered heavy topics, but it's done in such a way that is beautiful and it keeps you turning the pages.


The novel is about Clay Jensen finding out what really happened pushed his classmate, Hannah Baker to the point where she decided that ending her life was the best choice.

Asher wrote this in a unique dual narrative style. Hannah recorded thirteen messages on seven cassette tapes - one for each person she claims played a part in her making the decision to end her life. We get a glimpse into Clay's experience listening to these tapes. Thus creating the dual narrative - the complete messages from Hannah mixed with the thoughts and commentary of Clay.

The big challenge, I think, the book presents is connected with the golden rule - I should treat others the way I want to be treated. Because while ultimately it was Hannah's decision to end her life, the way that others treated her brought about the questions she was asking herself about herself that brought her to the conclusion she came to.

I could see how if this was taught in schools (I have no idea if it is or if it isn't) that some parents would push back on the idea because of the heavy content that is found within the novel - yes, there is more heaviness than just the fact that the leading lady committed suicide. BUT I think that this should be taught in high school classes. The characters are Juniors in high school with a Senior here and there. This could fit right in with the contemporary section of the American Literature curriculum. I think it will challenge the way that they look at their peers and think twice about how they treat them.

This novel brought back some of the emotions I remember feeling when I was in high school. I even thought about what it would have looked like if I did what Hannah did. Who would have been on my list or would there have even been a list? It was an interesting flashback to experience and to see how far I have come from that point. I definitely have the persistent people in my life to thank for the fact that I have continued to push forward instead of freezing.

I think the biggest take away, for me, was just to not give up on those around you. That doesn't mean you force yourself into the lives of others. But you don't not try to let them know that they are cared for or that they matter. You never know what impact a statement about how much someone matters to you could have. It always matters, even if the person doesn't think that it does in that specific moment. It could be the memory of that moment when someone showed that they did care that impacts their thoughts later.

I recommend this book! And I'm interested and excited to see how the novel is adapted into the Netflix series that premieres on March 31st.


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