01 October 2014

Review: Thirteen Reasons Why

Thirteen Reasons Why
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm not generally one to really react to a book in general. A funny book for me might elicit a chuckle, but I'm typically a silent reader. With this book, however, I'm pretty sure that the old ladies at the Dunkin Donuts where I was reading this was wondering why this grown man, beard and all, looked about ready to sob all over the place.

Yes, Thirteen Reasons Why is that good.

The plot is fairly straightforward in that we get to listen along with a teenage boy as he listens to the audio records of the girl who killed herself a few weeks earlier. She recorded the tapes with the intention of those who were involved in her making the choice she did knowing exactly why it happened.

It's gut-wrenching. It's heart-breaking.

A common problem with the teen "issues" books is that they can really do a lot in trivializing the emotional core of teen life. It's easy for us, as adults, to look back at what we spent our emotional energy on years earlier and forget how tough it was (heck, that's part of the reason why YA books are so popular with adults currently), but it also runs the risk of diminishing the real feelings involved along the way. If depression and emotional angst are a series of crushing weights (and, for many, they are), Thirteen Reasons Why just marches us right along as we watch that slow decline.

As someone who struggles with depression to this day, this book really hit home for me. I always tell people about how Stargirl is the best book I can think of for teens to read about acceptance and treating people right, and this book has lodged itself directly next to it as something not only important because of the message it sends, but also important because of how genuine and sincere it is. It's a narrative about how the small things become big, and maybe reading this book might just make some people treat their peers a little better, because it might be all it takes.

I don't know. It took me over a week to write up anything on this and I feel like I could spend forever talking about it. It's a beautiful, tragic, amazing, disturbing book in every regard. I'm glad I read it. I hate that I read it. I love that it exists, I hate that it needs to. No one should have to read this, but everyone really should. If you've been holding off, as I have for years and years now, just find a copy and read it now. You'll be really, really glad you did.

I'll supply the tissues.

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