Sunday, April 29, 2012

"Thirteen Reasons Why" by Jay Asher

Gut wrenching. This book resonated deeply, and I imagine it would with most girls -- high school and beyond.

I've read some critical reviews of this book stating that Hannah's reasons for suicide are unbelievable and petty. To me, they weren't -- perhaps because I know a half-dozen classmates who have committed suicide (while in high school, or in the 10 years since), and many of their reasons are similar. It is a snowball effect, and certainly easy to judge when you're on the outside looking in. But I completely empathize with her reasons, particularly for teens in high school. All events seem to have such magnitude and importance in high school (your friends, rumors, and crushes are the end all, be all. You can't imagine not having these people in your life, or having them not matter. Raging hormones and emotions out of control. The drama. The popular rankings and the physical rankings -- yearbook official or not -- certainly have an impact. The humiliations and awkward moments feel unforgettable).

It seems most of the criticism of this book stems from emotional reactions of people claiming the reasons aren't legit or believable -- when really, that's the whole point. Suicide is a deeply personal issue, and I can't imagine many situations where people think, "Oh yeah, that person definitely should have killed himself. Those are great reasons to die." Ridiculous.

Suicide is one of the top-leading causes of death in young people, and is a subject I wish was more frequently dealt with in accessible lit. I'm impressed with Asher's effort and execution. I love who he weaved between the different narratives, breaking it up in a unique way as reader's go between perspectives, rather than chapter-by-chapter. Great pace and an interesting voice. Highly recommend it.