According to my handy dandy iPhone Hours Tracker app, I am almost 17 hours in to 48hbc (that’s 17 active hours, not counting sleeping, eating and taking breaks to rant at my husband about the book I just finished). That book is Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. I know a lot of people love this book. I know the topics are timely and important: teen suicide and bullying. And I can’t help but think that is why this book got published, received so many accolades, and is so loved by so many people. Or perhaps it simply didn’t appeal to me.
This book is written in a form that my ADD brain can’t keep up with. It’s about a girl, Hannah, who has committed suicide but before she killed herself, she recorded 6 1/2 cassette tapes with one side addressed to each of the thirteen people she blamed for her death. Apparently, the tapes were sent to the first person on the list who is required to send them to the next person and so on. The character listening to the tapes is both listening and thinking and doing other things. Hannah’s recording is in italics, his thoughts and actions are not. I forget from tape to listener what was going on in the last section. Are you confused? Of course, because I can’t even adequately explain my problem here.
Also, I know that bullying is a problem. People need to be kinder and think about what they say and do. BUT we also need to be teaching our kids to overcome the nasty crap life often throws our way. Hannah’s snarky (bitchy) tone makes me really not like her. I think she’s trying to be tough, but if that’s the case why did she choose to die? I’m confused. Clay, the character through whose ears we hear Hannah’s accusations, blames himself for not saving her. I believe suicide is sometimes (not always) just a big, selfish “screw you” to the people left behind, both friends and enemies. Hannah has taken that one step further with these tapes and it really reduces my sympathy for her. She could have made different choices, so could the other people in her life. Where is the discussion about that? If I ever use this book in my classroom, that is the capacity in which I will do so. We will read some and discuss the options and choices and junctures where different steps could have been taken. That is much more useful to kids than reading a how-to book about killing yourself and pissing everyone else off in the process. Not that I have that strong an opinion or anything…
Share your love and shine your light. 🙂