This book is about a girl named Hannah Baker who, before she kills herself, sends out 7 tapes to one of her classmates with instructions to pass them on when he/she is done with them. The book’s other narrator – Clay Jenson – comes home one day to find a package with no return address on his front porch. Inside, he discovers the tapes, recorded by Hannah. On the first tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life, and that Clay (or so he thinks, since his name is on the tapes) is one of them. Clay had had a crush on Hannah, and he is basically going insane trying to remember if he did anything to deserve having his name on the tapes.
My sister and I both agree that this book should be required reading in high school. It’s so good and so sad. It has an anti-bullying message. We all know kids can be cruel. Needlessly cruel. In a way, I was one of the lucky ones. Most of the time, I was ignored by my peers. Which is not good, but it is better than what Hannah Baker got. It it better than what most kids go though. In my post Dear 16-year-old me, I go into some detail about it. I’d be lying by omission if I didn’t tell you I had some pretty dark and twisted thoughts back then. High school is a time when most kids wish they were anywhere but where they were. This was true for me. There were times when I wanted to lay down on the floor and not have to get back up. But then, I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. I invited Jesus into my heart, and He changed everything for me. I was no longer alone. Yes, I was still struggling, but at least I wasn’t struggling alone.
This book made me feel… a storm of emotions. Empathy and sadness for Hannah. Anger at the classmates who made Hannah’s life so miserable she resorted to suicide. Sadness for Clay, for what can never be. There is no happy ending, just an explanation at what was done to Hannah that made her decide to end her life. It is so realistic (for high school, I mean) that you forget you’re reading a story. A story which is not really a story in real life. Bullying is real. I guess “treat others as you would like to be treated” goes out the window in high school. And middle school too.
And the sad part is? It doesn’t have to be like this. Kids make the choice to be bullies. Why? Because they can? Because it makes them feel stronger and more powerful than they really are? Because when they pick on others, they feel better about themselves? Because they have a rough home life? Because this is a broken world? Nothing is ever going to be perfect, at least not in this life; however, if kids are required to read this book and start to see how their actions, both good and bad, affect others, then maybe high school would be a much happier place for everyone.