Hello fellow bloggers! My name is Nicole Swift and I am currently a graduate student at Nazareth College of Rochester; I am studying to become a Literacy Specialist for students aged birth through grade six. To me, there is nothing more thrilling than reading a book that both captures your attention and forces you to question what you think you know about a topic. Thankfully, Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why achieved both of these ends!
While reading several plot summaries for the books by our TBF authors, I was immediately drawn to Jay Asher’s texts. In particular, Thirteen Reasons Why grabbed my attention. You might be asking “Why would a person be compelled to read a story about the suicide of a young girl? Isn’t that a bit depressing?” Have no fear; I too asked myself those same questions. However, and here is where I defend my rationale, I was hooked with one word in the title: Why. How often do we, as readers, get an insider’s perspective on why a deceased character made his or her decisions? More often than not, we are given the perspectives of those who were affected by the passing of an individual, but we are often left guessing at the motives of the deceased character. To put it simply, my own curiosity drove me to this book and I am thankful that it did.
On the surface, this book serves as a sort of eulogy for Hannah Baker’s character. In detail, Hannah reveals the events of her life that influenced her decision to commit suicide. Hannah explains how such events, on their own, might not have pushed her to the point of no return, but when considered together, these events came to define her identity. On a deeper level, this book speaks to the effects of our actions both seen and unseen. Several of the recipients of Hannah’s tapes were under the impression that their actions were “no big deal” and Hannah was simply overreacting. However, once aware of the inner struggle Hannah faced on a daily basis, these same characters were forced to reevaluate how their actions served as contributing factors. This book is not only an account of one specific suicide, but draws attention to feelings that are often consistent across suicides. Many people, similar to Hannah, experience bullying or feel a lack of compassion which forces them to question the value of their own lives. Jay Asher draws attention to an important subject and forces the reader to wonder whether or not we can truly ever know someone’s most honest inner thoughts. This book stirs up feelings of sympathy, pain and hope while leaving the reader to question: How can my actions make a positive difference?