Suicide is a mysterious thing. On one hand, it is an end, an outlet for people who believe there is no alternative. And yet... for those left behind, there are so many questions left unanswered. Jay Asher's debut novel, Thirteen Reasons Why sets it's eyes at answering these questions. Before following through on her plan to end her life, teenager Hannah Baker documents and shares the thirteen events/reasons that inspired her to make her final decision. Sent directly to those who affected her most, Hannah puts blame and credit where they are due. Rife with the potential to sentimentalize and glorify, Asher instead maintains a distance in his writing. Neither condemning nor excusing the act, this narrative brings into question our own choices in how we relate and react to others.
“No one knows for certain how much impact they have on the lives of other people. Oftentimes, we have no clue. Yet we push it just the same... You don’t know what goes on in anyone’s life but your own. And when you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re not messing with just that part. Unfortunately, you can’t be that precise and selective. When you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re messing with their entire life. Everything. . . affects everything.”
Told in a dual narrative style, Thirteen Reasons Why not only poses an explanation for one of humanity's most inexplicably unsatisfying actions, it allows room for opportunity and hope for the future. Those who receive Hannah's tapes will be forever changed; their secrets have been outed, the truth has been released. Yet each person on the list is offered a chance that Hannah does not have the strength or the wherewithal to create for herself. It is an opportunity to start over. To make a change for the better.
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