Have you ever read a book so good your life feels changed? You feel as if you’re a new person, you hold a new outlook on everything. Maybe the book itself wasn’t great, but the way it made you feel and the underlying lessons were definitely something that stuck with you.
The book that gave me this overwhelming feel of being reborn, was 13 Reasons Why, by Jay Asher. After hearing great things about it from a friend, I finally came across a copy at Powell’s and decided to give it a try. I love reading, but finding a book I LOVE, is challenging. I didn’t have high hopes for this book, I imagined it being the average teenage love story novel, but boy! Was I wrong!
The book starts off with one of the main characters, Clay, receiving a mysterious package in which he found 7 cassette tapes and 13 stories total. Clay starts to listen to the first cassette tape and shortly realizes the voice on the tape is the voice of a girl he had a major crush on, Hannah Baker. Sounds pretty weird and boring, right? Wrong. Hannah Baker committed suicide nearly a year ago. After the initial shock that it was Hannah’s voice, Clay continues listening and finds out that Hannah made those tapes and had the intent of them being sent to everyone mentioned on the tapes because in one way or another, Hannah blames each one of them as a reason she committed suicide. That explains the title “13 Reasons Why” (13 stories, 13 reasons, get it?)
After hearing he’s only gotten the tapes because he’s mentioned on them and Hannah considers everyone mentioned is a reason she is now gone, it’s safe to say Clay is overwhelmed with feelings of confusion and the sadness of her being gone all over again. Along with the tapes is also a map of places to visit while listening to the tapes, which Clay ends up carrying with him through his time with the tapes.
Listening to all the tapes brings Clay the realizations of how Hannah was mistreated by many, and went through things that no high school student should go through. Not only is the story tragic and fills you with an overflow of emotions, it also carries a variety of messages. We don’t know what people are going through on a daily basis, we don’t know how the little “jokes” we make are affecting someone. Giving our pure, genuine kindness to someone can bring no harm to us or someone else, and this story is the perfect example of how a little kindness could go very far for someone who is on the verge of dangerous feelings
This book is filled with so many lessons and themes that everyone should know about and read. I believe it should be one of those required books to read in high school. With suicide being something many younger kids are now seeking as a last resort, this book can help teach all of us what to look for and how we can all alter our actions in the slightest way to help those who may be having a hard time.