Okay, all. This week we’re getting serious.
I’ve had this book on my shelf for about two years, and it’ just one of those I never really got to. It’s not that I didn’t want to; I had heard plenty of great things about this book. I even bought it on the recommendation from one of my friends (shoutout to you, Hannah J.). However, this week I knew it was time. It’s one of the only ones on my shelf in Chadron that has gone unread, and this was the week to tackle it. I could feel it in my bones.
I suppose I should issue a warning before I begin to review this book: this is not a book with a happy ending. In fact, from the get-go that’s a given; one of the main characters, Hannah, has already killed herself a week ago. Fellow HS junior Clay Jensen, a quiet and intelligent kid just trying to get through school, stumbles upon a mysterious box of tapes mailed to him with no return address. After finding a cassette player in his garage, he begins the tapes only to find that they are the tapes of none other than Hannah Baker, his recently departed crush. In a set of seven tapes, with thirteen sides, Hannah tells her story along with the thirteen reasons why she committed suicide, each being a person who contributed to her unraveling. She has also provided a city map with select locations marked to help the listener better visualize her story, hoping that they will understand the effect they have on others.
This book was heartbreaking. It was beautifully and incredibly well-written, but it has affected me on deep, deep levels. If there was ever a book to introduce to teens to show the effects of bullying in relation to teen suicide, this would be it. It also opens up the conversation to mental illness, a crucial conversation to have at any point or age in life; I know it’s tough, and I know the topic is raw, but please, PLEASE do not skip over this one.
I told myself I would diversify the books that I read this semester, and this was my first leap into the unknown. Add this to your TBR list now, everyone. You don’t need thirteen reasons why, only one:
Expose yourself to what a book like this can do to you.
Note: A Netflix series adaptation of this novel will be released soon this year. When it comes out, you’ll know where to find me.