Saturday, October 13, 2012

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Thirteen Reasons Why
5 stars

This one of the toughest books I have ever read. I started getting teary-eyed by the prologue... I was like, "Really? You need to get a grip!" I was already aware of the content in this book, but like most didn't have a clue as to why this young girl killed herself and then decided to make tapes and pass them along, to specific people. I really loved her story.

I really didn't look forward to reading this book because of the whole suicide issue. I don't care how self assured you are in your adult life, chances are you felt alone at least once in your adolescent life. I am not saying I was suicidal but I can understand wanting to be done, thankfully, I am strong willed and let this roll off my skin. Unfortunately, now that I work in the public school system (not that that makes a difference in teen suicide) it is hard to brush off someone’s anxiety about life and being alienated. I do remember growing up and saying that kids took things too seriously, bullying was not bullying when I grew up; it was accepted and also thought of as character building. But now with the world as connected and voyeuristic as it is, this generation has to deal with things differently than the past.

I do not approve of suicide, but who am I to judge? If a person says they are done, they are done. It’s like trying to get someone to quit an addiction; they need to want it too. Hannah did want it, but so many little actions done/not done caused her to disconnect to the world. (view spoiler)[What if Justin didn’t spread a stupid, seemingly harmless rumor? What if Alex didn’t stop being her friend, and in turn make Hannah and her other friend Jessica butts (no pun intended) of his joke to earn some cool points? What if Jessica wasn’t a total tool and didn’t believe the beginning rumors? Oh hey, what if Tyler wasn’t only not a creep but also a not a creep that took incriminating photos of Courtney and Hannah? (Although, Hannah should have probably stopped to think about some of her actions.) Ooo, what if Courtney was a total bitch and played with Hannah’s vulnerability to make friends (once you are a slut to the rest of the school it’s hard to take back)? Marcus Cooley, really how about you are not a dirt bag and try to touch a girl in the first 10 minutes of your date… Zach, #7, he’s one of the biggest roles in this. Hannah did make a point of trying to share out what she was feeling and because she didn’t want to be with him he stripped that away from her. I don’t think people realize how difficult it is to admit to wanting to commit suicide. Not only did he take away the only encouraging human contact but he also ignored her last real plea for help. Ryan, what did he do? Well, what if, instead of using her poem for his paper, he tried to be a friend and talk it out with her? Oh, wait what if he told a guidance counselor? (Very simple things to do.) Clay, well you’re just awesome. She clearly states that Clay doesn’t belong in this list, but maybe their last encounter made her feel like he needed to know why she did it. And thankfully Clay is not as dense as most people, and he got that, hence why he didn’t blame himself…DUH. Justin again…surprise…. Jenny, well this is kind of the representation that even those we find to be human can sometimes lack humanity. I think Jenny embodies Hannah’s lack of faith in humanity and in herself as well. (At this point Hannah is pretty committed to dying…) Bryce… if I have to single out how he plays a part in cracking Hannah, well, I feel bad. (Also, Hannah mentions her lack of involvement, she understands it is her fault as well, I don’t forgive her for that but I also don’t hate her for being scared.) Why did Hannah let him “rape” her? She didn’t, she was already gone, she had already let go. Like she said she became what they had all told her she was. (If it feels like she wanted to commit suicide… then you clearly didn’t realize that she had already decided it at this point. There is no reading between the lines she did admit to it.) Mr. Porter… he is another Jenny. At that point the decision was made, but Hannah wanted to see just one more time if there wasn’t a mistake in her plan. She wanted someone to show concern. Yes, suicides are about attention, because normally the person who will kill themselves are lacking in people caring, or in people treating them like they can be cared about. Mr. Porter, I dislike him the most! As a professional in education, I cannot believe that sometimes these troubled students have to deal with idiots like this. THERE IS AN EFFIN SOCIAL WORKER ON STAFF; you don’t know what to do: CONTACT THEM! (hide spoiler)]. There is nothing ridiculous about Hannah and her experiences. When people find insignificance in suicide, then they prove why that person committed such an act. Just like her peers that scoffed at the student note about suicide. Judge lest ye be judged… This book is meant for those that can be understanding and sympathetic. Suicide has become a huge issue in our culture. Kids are getting better at alienating each other and people are getting better at blaming those that are alienated. Turning a blind eye to obnoxious behaviour leads to more accepted obnoxious behaviour, which leads to alienation, that leads to depression and feeling closed off from support, and eventually can lead to suicide. However, this book shows us that we all have a possible role, big or small, in helping someone from suicide. It shows the importance of human compassion and makes us all question our past actions and transgressions. And if you feel, at the end, like this wasn't your experience, then I feel eternally sorry.

I am not a religious zealot, nor do I own a soap box that I perch on, I am just a regular person who hopes that I did not commit something as vile as the characters in this book. I hope because I am human, and being human I will err and there is nothing I can do about that. Just hope that I didn't not err to greatly, and never ended up on any one's list of why they killed themselves.

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