Friday, May 13, 2016

Thirteen Reasons Why

May - Books with numbers in the title.

Thirteen Reasons Why is a unique book. The majority of the book is told from one boy's point of view, Clay Jensen as he listens to a series of cassette tapes that were sent to him in the mail. What is he listening to: Hannah Baker's story of her thirteen reasons why she killed herself.

I found this book in a Half Price Books last year after the Texas Teen Book Festival, but I didn't have the money to get it at the time so I made a point of taking down the title and author so that I could get it as soon as possible. Then my sister said she was listening to the audio book for this month's book club read and I thought that would be perfect, it gave me the chance to talk to someone else who had read the book. So I bought my copy and waited anxiously for it to get to me in the mail. And read it in one day.

This book hits close to home for me. There was a point in my life when I thought that suicide might be the answer to my problems. Lucky for me I am kind of a wuss and couldn't go through with it. It doesn't keep me from stopping every so often to think about it, from considering what it would take and what it would affect. I am also lucky enough to have a best friend who had also been at that point in her life and knew how to talk me down. I now have more people to turn to, including that first friend. But to this day I can still name the people and events that led to that first real consideration. Much like Hannah picked out her list of reasons, I could still do it thirteen years after I was in that same place. Wow, thirteen years ago. Is that serendipity? Ok, this got pretty heavy for a book review.

So, this book. It was incredible, I really think so. There were a few times when maybe I wasn't thrilled with a sentence, or maybe something seemed just slightly less than amazingly written. But those times were very few, far between, and not worth note. What is important was how well Jay Asher brings to life this story. Not only does he give the reader this unique format of having parts of the chapters told from a cassette tape, but he does a wonderful story of interjecting Clay's world into it. Not just his thoughts about what is being said, but what he is does as he listens to the tapes, as if the reader is also hearing Hannah in the background as Clay lives. What's better, you can hear parts of the cassette tapes on YouTube, as posted by a "friend".

And as Clay listens to the tapes, as he anxiously waits at the start of each new story to find out if this one is for him, I waited anxiously. I am pretty sure that I felt every thing that Clay felt, including the heartbreak for his story and the start and stop of tears as he listened. Asher does an amazing job of turning the reader into Clay. Part of me really hates that I read the book instead of listening to it on tape because I hear the way it alternates between narrators is fantastic. I'll ask my sister's opinion on that matter when she gets done with listening to it. Maybe I'll listen to it some time in the future.

Which leads me to what I plan on doing with this book. I am going to put it on my shelf. I am going to loan it out to anyone that even looks in its general direction. I am going to hold on to it until my son is getting ready to start high school and I am going to make him read it before he starts. I will do the same for my daughter (who I am really worried has the potential to be a bully) and have a good long talk when she is done with it. Because I think everyone needs to read it. No one ever realizes the impact their little thoughtless acts have on others. People don't think about the possibility that others are fighting their own battles and that one wrong push can really tip their scales. I need at least my children to think before they act. This is a lesson this book paints so vividly as it tells stories that may seem so simple and innocuous individually but add up to be just too much for Hannah. So I will pass this book on. Frequently.

If you have your own take on this book, on this story, let me know. Or check out ThirteenReasonsWhy to share you story or see others.

I also want to leave you with a few things. Like the number for a hotline: 1-800-SUICIDE. A website: . An organization: To Write Love On Her Arms. A campaign: The Semicolon Project. Even a name: Jared Padelecki. Please, if you think that you are at a place in your life where nothing else can help, try just once more. And remember, you can always reach out to me, through a comment of email. And always keep in mind that others may be struggling, so try to always be kind to each other.

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