Thirteen Reasons Why
5 Years ago I attended a funeral of a class mate I'd known since grade one. We were arranged in alphabetical order so he was always sitting behind me. His obituary talked about what a good kid he was, his outstanding grades in college, how happy and full of life and promise he held. To this day, nobody knows why he did it, there wasn't a note, just his body hanging from the rafters in his family's barn. there were little things in his life, stress, a job, school... that snow ball effect talked about so often in 'Thirteen Reasons Why'... but could it have been something more? Who knows, we all deal with things differently.
Suicide is a very touchy subject for everyone. We all have different opinions and experiences with it that it's hard to talk about. Some religions say that you'll spend forever in purgatory if you do it, or forever relive those final moments as punishment for doing it. Arguments can range from an insensitive "If you want to kill yourself, then you should just do it." to more a more understanding "There is always someone to talk to." I think that because we all react differently to such a topic that 'Thirteen Reasons Why' comes across as insensitive for the later half of the book for me.
one thing I agree with about this book, the snow ball effect and you never know how people will deal with all the little problems that keep growing in their lives. Hannah had every right to be scared, sad, angry and feel the need voice her opinions, even if putting it out there was on tapes.
'Thirteen Reasons Why' quickly became 'edgy, horrific and eye opening' for so many readers and reviewers. Personally, the whole thing seemed like a 16 year olds pipe dreams to make her antagonists suffer for making her suffer. Honestly, when I was that age, being bullied constantly, I too thought of revenge, going as far as to fantasize about my own funeral and wondering what effect it'd have on them. I almost bought Hannah's story right up until reason number 9, Clay's Story. After that it felt as though Hannah wasn't a 'victim'. Hiding in a closet and listening to a rape doesn't make me want to sympathies with Hannah, it makes me feel bad for the victim, a girl whom Hannah sent her Death Tapes to. So not only did Jessica have to hear the reason why she contributed to Hannah's death, she got to listen to a play by play of being raped by one of the worlds biggest horn dogs. Hannah is not the victim in this case, Jessica is. Jenny's Story seemed very petty in the scheme of things and I couldn't relate it to how Hannah would put it in line with her Death Tapes. Bryce's Story was something else entirely. I get it, this was rock bottom for Hannah, I couldn't find the situation believable given the circumstances. Why go to Bryce? The last few stories on her tapes, while holding some pretty harsh things, didn't make me believe that Hannah could use them as excuses for ending her life.
I found the tapes horribly unfair to begin with. It's just as bad as ripping into someone with a very biased opinion and then walking away with your fingers in your ears. We can argue over that being the exact reason for Hannah's tapes, a final 'Fuck You', but it's a mighty big 'fuck you' from someone who did very little to help herself. While there were attempts, most of them were half hearted. Hannah walked away from Clay and didn't purse the counseling option and I'd like to believe that Hannah had a choice to see another Councillor if she didn't feel as if Mr. Porter were doing his job. On top of that, Hannah has or had the balls to say on a few occasions that she didn't hold any hard feelings towards her bullies and that she never hated them. The tapes, during those points, seemed very contradictory.
Lets be honest, the list provided to the students in the Peer Communication class isn't always acknowledged and applied to every child and student who goes to school. Kids in school have changing personalities, styles and moods that a lot of the time, it's hard to gauge if a person is actually thinking of doing the deed. Some kids get piss poor grades and it doesn't mean they're writing their final notice in lieu of homework. Not everyone who gets a hair cut is going to off themselves. I've attended a school of 1500 kids grades 10-12 and teachers didn't have the time to touch base with ever kid who entered their class room. What I mean is, things on the list get overlooked A LOT because of what I've stated above. The first time Hannah mentioned that anything was wrong was to Zach, number 7 on her list, a character who barely knew her, something of a jerk and was expected to take her seriously? It's usually not until the person does it or actually seeks help that one can take the list out and count the ways they were. Yes, she got a hair cut and sent Zach a note. Yes, she gave her bike to Tony but he gave her the tape recorder in return so, to me anyways, the giving of her bike seemed nullified as a sign for Tony until he heard her tapes. By then it was too late.
On that note, I thought Tony's involvement was the cruelest of all. Not only did he listen to the tapes he wasn't on, it was his duty to follow 13 people around to make sure they did what they were told to do. Let me add that before the bike exchange, Tony and Hannah didn't seem to have any sort of relationship outside of having some classes together. That, my friends, is one of the bigger tragedies in 'Thirteen Reasons Why'. I understand Hannah wanting revenge, but involving Clay and Tony just seemed down right cruel.
I'm giving 'Thirteen Reasons Why' 3/5. I felt like up until reason number 9, the novel was pretty solid with an interesting story, but quickly felt short.