You’ve probably heard of the TV show 13 Reasons Why – it’s been in the media quite a lot recently because of its coverage of controversial issues such as suicide and mental illness in teenagers, and especially because of the graphic suicide scene of protagonist ‘Hannah Baker’. I haven’t seen it purely because it sounds too morbid to watch, but I did read it recently. The general synopsis of the story is that a teenager, Hannah Baker, commits suicide, and she records 13 tapes just before she dies. In each tape she blames a specific person for provoking her in some way to kill herself – and the box of tapes is sent round to each person featured on it. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t particularly enjoy reading this book as I felt it was a bit slow paced at times and felt laborious to read. I also didn’t like the style of writing, possibly because I prefer a bit more formality when it comes to language in books. However, I do think the plot and the idea of appearance versus reality with Hannah Baker was very interesting, and I obviously did feel very sympathetic for her, but I felt it was a little unjust that she blamed others for her suicide. Yes, they collectively did ‘kill’ Hannah, however blaming them wouldn’t bring Hannah peace – and what if her blaming them for her death eventually give them a mental illness? I think we must understand that these people are teenagers too, with their own issues and struggles, and blaming them may lead to their self harm further down the line. Whilst I am NOT condoning what these people did to Hannah – indeed they must be punished severely, I think not understanding why they did these things and blindly pointing a finger at them is counter-intuitive.
I did really admire the head on way Asher approached such a precarious topic, it was refreshingly bold and made for a fascinating plot. I do also think it was good in the way that it sparked lots of conversations about mental illness, which relieved the stigma placed around the issue. Let me know in the comments what you thought of the book and your thoughts on the TV show if you watched it!
Bye for now 😉