Yesterday, I posted an interview with Jay Asher. It was an awesome interview and asking the questions I did and reading his responses brought back a lot of memories. (You can read it here and enter to win a signed copy!!) I read Thirteen Reasons Why a few years ago, back in my last year or so of college and I loved it. It was such an intensely emotional read and it just buzzed around in my brain for days.
It has been a while since I read this book, at least 2 years I would say and so I'm a little fuzzy on specific details in the story. But I remember this book vividly. I remember picking it up because I had heard a lot of talk about it and it seemed like my kind of story. I remember reading it and not being able to stop. Once I started I just had to keep reading and reading. And, I also remember begging, pleading in my mind for Asher to have thought of some way for it to only have been a fake suicide, so that Hannah could come back at the end of the novel because by the time I closed the book I was so in love with her and I just ached so terribly for her and wanted so desperately for there to be something that could be done to make things better for her.
Asher is a gifted and brilliant writer and the idea of a young girl sending tapes to her tormentors so that they would know what role they played in her suicide is something I had never given thought of. It is so much most impactful than a note, but it is also something rather vindictive and, as much as it should (and does, a little) shame me to admit this, it is something that really appeals to me. If I were in Hannah's place, driven to death by the tormenting actions of my peers, I would want them to spend every day for the rest of their lives with that knowledge. And some of Hannah's tormentors completely deserve that. They are horrid. But many of them probably never gave any further thought to the events that devastated Hannah so thoroughly. They were basically good, normal kids who had a moment of cruelty or disinterest and never understood how their actions affected someone on such a deep level.
I feel like that is true for a lot of people. We have no way of knowing where a person is at, what their struggling or trials are, what triggers melancholy, or even if they are the type of person to be inclined towards suicide. We have no way of knowing and we also have no way of knowing the true impact of our actions toward others. What seems like a tiny moment of fun for one person can end up being something so monumentally damaging to another that they never forget it. I loved that this book expounded on that, that this book shows us what Hannah went through and what Hannah perceived. Perception is a huge part of this story and it touches everything.
The characterization in this novel was completely perfect. Hannah is telling her story through these tapes to her tormentors and Clay is devastated to realize he is on the list. He liked Hannah, really liked her and things almost seemed as if they might start between the two of them. As he walks through the town, listening to Hannah tell her story, ending up in the places Hannah describes, my eyes burned for him. I wanted to just reach out and hug him, because that would be unbelievably hard. I was terrified for his turn on her tapes because Clay had no idea what he could have done, so neither do we. And, as if the fact that he is listening to her again, hearing all the pain and hurt she faced, he spends half the tapes scared and wondering what he could have done to Hannah, crushed that he was a part of her pain.
I know that this review is a little bit all over the place, but seriously you guys, this book does that to a person. It has been years since I read this book, but it's still vivid in my mind and thinking about the book again is playing havoc with my emotions. This is a book that is uncomfortable to read and is going to make you stop and look at your own life, make you wonder if you have ever been that person, the one to say something snide or intentionally hurtful and forget about it, not knowing the impact it had on the other person.
So go out and read this book. It is a book that has a lesson for everyone and I cannot think of anyone that wouldn't benefit on some level from reading this book. It's not by any means an easy read. Its challenging, painful and will freaking rip your heart out and mangle your soul. It's the type of book that changes a person. So read it. Seriously. Go and do it now. And I dare you to not be moved.