13 Reasons Why, by Jay Asher
I like YA, I really do. It may not be my favorite genre of all, but still I enjoy reading it every time I find a good story. But, if you are one of those who –delusionally, I’m afraid– think at YA as a light-hearted genre all about friendship, first love and summer crushes, then you are so, so wrong. Prepare yourself for darkness and real life struggles; just like in 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher, first published by RazorBill in 2007 but officially gained the public attention only in 2011 with the paperback edition (New York Times best-seller – July) and just lately became viral thanks to the Netflix adaptation of 13 Reasons Why.
Now –just trying to make some humor here– I don’t know about you but, the more I read YA the more scared I am of teenagers. Is that the real youth? Wow.. if I was a teeneager I would be seriously scared (to death? -here’s the humor) to go to high school or even to be in the presence of other teens. If that’s a representation of what’s going on with the youngsters then, we all should be very scared.
Apart from the sociological implications that come with this novel, 13 Reasons Why is not a simple book to review, mainly for the topic itself: depression and suicide are never an easy topic. But it’s not just about that: Asher‘s writing style is very unique, the characters are quite peculiar, but the story is a bit weak.
You can’t stop the future.
You can’t rewind the past.
The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.
Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker—his classmate and crush—who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.
Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.
Browsing through the comments under 13 Reasons Why both on Goodreads (40,849 reviews) and Amazon (3,975 customer reviews), I sensed that this book gained much more appeal after the tv series appeared on Netflix in March; prior to that the reviews weren’t so enthusiastic.
Back to the book, if you are in the age group of 14-16 you’d probably just appreciate a nice story, well written and toxically engaging (even the slowest reader will probably finish it in a day or so) played by highly relatable characters, cool and even quite intriguing.
But if you are a bit older, let’s say more than 16 years old, I believe that 13 Reasons Why could raise a mix of emotions that, will leave you quite concerned about… well, about everything. If it’s true that what’s in the book happens in real life, then I am wondering: are our teens so “emotionally weak” that bad gossip makes them even consider suicide? And, on the other side, how is that even possible some of them are so angry? where does that come from? Little, despotic and angry-to-the-core teenagers able to commit themselves to make someone else’s life so miserable to the point they don’t want to stop?
And it’s not just about this book. Log in to YouTube or any other social media you can think of and see for yourself… it’s everywhere: “the truth exposed“, “spill the tea“, “calling out” this or that. A platoon of modern dei ex machina willing to solve this sort of plague of falseness that is spreading around, exposing (legitimately or not) all the bad we cannot see.
If suicide is the extreme manifestation of a deep-rooted uneasiness, then what’s eating our youngsters from the inside? 13 Reasons Why won’t probably give you all the answers but sure it will promote conversations. Jay Asher might not have written a tremendous piece of literature but, sure enough 13 Reasons Why gives us enough to think.
Need to talk? Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) anytime if you are in the United States. It’s free and confidential.
Find more resources at 13reasonswhy.info
Find out how you can help someone in crisis at bethe1to.com