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Mirkat Always Reading

I'm always reading something, usually multiple books at a time.

Currently reading

The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't (Audio)
Robert I. Sutton
The Joy of Leaving Your Sh*t All Over the Place: The Art of Being Messy
Jennifer McCartney

Ghostly Walking Tour

Thirteen Reasons Why - Jay Asher


Although I finished listening to/reading this a week ago, I've wanted to mull it over for a while before writing anything.  I read a bunch of "Goodreads" reviews, curious to see what others had to say on this book.  As might be expected for a topic like teen suicide, there were some very extreme reactions both on the "love" and "hate" side of the equation.  I could sympathize pretty much with the entire scale of reactions, as I had some mixed feelings about this one.  I did like it (which is my three stars--not the "meh" that a lot of people mean when they three-star a book).  But part of me worried that Hannah's tapes were a bit too close to suicide fantasies that are not so uncommon during adolescence.  "I'll make them sorry!"  Of course, those fantasies tend to gloss over the harsh fact that the person who commits suicide is not there to enjoy the outcome of whatever revenges might have been imagined.


I will say that this book lends itself especially well to the "audio" format, as Clay is supposed to be listening to the audio cassettes that Hannah recorded to explain her "13 reasons why" she committed suicide, each "reason" corresponding to a person she held partially responsible for driving her to taking her life.  In the Q & A at the end of the print book, Jay Asher says that his reason for having Hannah use the outdated technology of cassette tapes is that it's self-consciously and admittedly outdated.  His concern was that with the fast evolution of technology, if he'd used current technology, that tech might be obsolete in just a few years, making the book insta-dated.  I dunno, I still think he could have done something vague, like having Hannah make audio files and load them onto a player without specifying file format or player type.  Anyway, Asher has also said that the idea for the book came about from his taking a guided audio museum tour, where he found it somewhat eerie to listen to the voice of someone not present who knew and was able to describe each thing he was looking at as he looked at it.  Hannah takes her listeners on a spooky guided tour of their own town viewed from her perspective--and listening to that narration instead of (or in addition to) reading it definitely helped heighten that effect.


Some of the reviews I've read have complained that Hannah's reasons were not "good" (or "bad") enough--not extreme enough to believably drive a person to suicide.  Others have pointed out that no one can adequately judge another person's reactions to any given set of circumstances.  I can somewhat sympathize with both perspectives.  Another criticism I've seen is that Clay Jensen (reason #9) is a Gary Stu--far too perfect, and even let off the hook on the tape devoted to him.  But Clay himself does feel as though he's wronged Hannah, because he allowed her reputation to intimidate him.  He allowed it to make him think he'd never have a chance with her.  He blames himself for not insisting on staying with her when she was clearly upset--leading to the next events in the series of things that went wrong.  He can never know how things might have turned out if he'd acted in those moments when he didn't dare.


Some people complained that the hopeful ending felt tacked on, but I think it worked.  I appreciated the take-away message of recognizing the large impact that seemingly small actions (or inactions) can have.