If there is one word that I would use to describe this book, it would have to be REPERCUSSIONS. The word describes something that we never think of but is of utmost importance. And we rarely think about it when we are young. When I say young, don’t get me wrong. It has nothing to do with age. ‘Young’ is not an age. It is a state of mind.
We are not perfect. I am not. You are not. In relation to that it simply means that our children will not be perfect and will not live in a perfect world. We all know the reason behind this imperfection, don’t we? Most of it is driven by us.
Before I go ahead and tell you what this book is about (which many of you might already know) I want to ask a few questions. Show of hands please.
- Have you ever been ridiculed by someone?
- Have you ever passed on a piece of information about someone that didn’t come to you from the person itself but was given to you by someone else?
- Have you ever stereotyped people in school – front bencher, back bencher, loser, buffoon, geek, stud etc ?
- Have you ever ganged up against someone?
- And lastly, have you ever NOT stood up for something that you believe in, for fear that you will be a sore thumb in the madding crowd?
I am pretty sure all your answers will be YES. Mine are all YES. Guilty as charged. Now comes the important part.
Very often we do things and say things without realising the repercussions of our actions. We hide behind phrases like “it was a joke”, “hey take it easy” and “I was just kidding”. Sounds familiar doesn’t it? But we never really think it through. We say things and move on without wondering what we left behind. Did we say something that triggered a rumour or a trail of events that will haunt the victim for days, years or even the rest of their life? Will it scar them for life or push them over board? Hannah’s story in Thirteen Reasons Why will get you to think about this over and over and over again.
Well, the New York Times Bestseller, Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher is the story of a girl who, through a bunch of tapes, narrates to her listener, Clay Jensen, the reason why she takes her life. As she unveils story by story and person by person responsible for pushing her towards the unthinkable, Hannah will take you back to your life to draw comparisons. The narrative takes time to settle in your head as it switches between Hannah’s confession and Clay Jensen’s thoughts, frequently. But the plotline unfolds in a pace that is just right to keep you going.
The book made me think of many things that happened to me as a child, a teenager and an adult. Of course, above all, I am sad to not have read this book earlier. It may have put many things into perspective. But most importantly it made me think of not just the guy who pokes fun at me but the guy who stands next to him as a pillar of support for this terrible behaviour.
As intense and dark as it may sound, the book is essential for a teenager for many reasons. Here is my guide to why and how to read the book.
- Let’s get one thing straight. The book is neither a step by step guide to suicide nor is it preaching that the end solution to a bad life is suicide.
- Teenagers often go through things that they cannot discuss with parents. But if the problems they are having are with their own friends and they cannot discuss it with their parents then who do they talk to? Books like this are a vent. It gets them to think about what has happened and how to handle it better. It is like a support system.
- This book would be a great choice for a book club or a book discussion. In my view talking about sexual abuse, rape, ridicule, stereotyping, suicide etc are topics that NEED to be discussed with teens. This book will help make that start and more importantly without making anyone feel awkward.
- Don’t force them to read it. Let them get to it.
- Lastly not all books are about angels and demons in a fantasy world. Some books are about the angels and demons in our everyday life. Both are equally important. One for fun and the other as a mechanism to relate and maybe even cope.
To sum it up – I loved the book.
It has given me perspective.
It has given me a voice (Hannah’s).
It has given me a reason to think about what I say and what I do.
Trust me and read it.