It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?: Thirteen Reasons Why

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.

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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.

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9 thoughts on “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?: Thirteen Reasons Why

  1. Yo Shannon, I just have one question, may I borrow it? You gave an intriguing summary. I have always heard great things about this book (like you did) and now I see no other way out of this situation than to read it myself!

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  2. I loved this book! I also loved your thoughts on it. It is one I would love my students to read for the sheer ideas of what bullying and suicide can amount to. It was a chilling book, but one I learned so much from.

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  3. I, too, loved LOVED this book for the lessons it teaches. I am a quote person, and I have what I call a “Quote Journal” – I write down all the lines that stick with me. This novel had a ton of them, so when I saw your post I had to get my quote journal out. This is my favorite…

    “When you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re not messing with just that part. Unfortunately, you can’t be that precise and selective. When you mess with one part of a person’s life you’re messing with their entire life. Everything…affects everything” (Jay Asher).

    Your post is so compelling and drew me right back into this story. Even though it will break my heart all over again, I want to reread it.

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  4. I read this book a long time ago, like middle school or earlier. It was a book my old girlscout leader had lying around and I thought it looked interesting. This book made me cry and break on so many different levels. I believe that reading something that can have that much power over you is one of the best experiences you can ever encounter. This is a fantastic book even though its sad nature hurts. It’s definitely a book to recommend to students if bullying is a problem in your school or to at least stimulate a discussion. Thanks for sharing this!

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  5. Good for branching out! I have an interest in reading books that address suicide, but am hesitant…You really have to be in the right frame of mind to dive into a book like this. This is one I would consider, sounds like it has an important lesson in the end. Thank you for such a good review.

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    1. I agree, this is a book that will vastly affect your mood no matter the mindset you’re in. The lesson learned is incredible, though, and the way Jay Asher presents it is masterly. Huge recommendation coming from me for this book.

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