Title: 13 Reasons Why
Text type: Novel
Author: Jay Asher
13 Reasons Why, written by Jay Asher, is based on a teenage girls suicide and the audio tapes she leaves behind for her ‘friends’ giving the reasons for her actions. It follows freshman, Clay Jensen, as he listens to the tapes one by one revelling each of his classmate’s role in the taking of Hannah Baker’s life in a small American town. The tapes have been played by nine other people before they reach Clay, each tape a different person, a different reason for Hannahs doings. They eventually get passed around by all twelve students and one teacher, they eventually get passed around all thirteen reasons why.
The novel, 13 Reasons Why, teaches us that we are all responsible for our own actions and there will always be a consequence, good or bad. “Everything . . . affects everything”. As soon as we do something it will have an impact, for good or for worse, on everyone. This is relatable to every reader, including me. Everything we are to say to one another will determine the reply we get, from this it influences our actions and then again our conversations. We see this in the tapes in a domino effect. Hannahs first tape reveals how Justin, Hannah’s first crush and kiss, was apart of all this. He is the apparent original source of the rumours of new girl Hannah, being a “slut”. Through the next tapes, we see how this name sparks Alex to write a list about the girls at school and “calls open season” on Hannahs body. We then also see how this name, turning into a list, makes Markus try to get with Hannah as he “though she was easy”. This then leads on to Hannahs rape and death. From this, we can see by starting a small rumour, or call someone an apparent harmless name, what it can turn into. From this, we can see how “Everything . . . affects everything”. This is easily relatable as at school all the time we see things quickly escalate in friend groups from an apparent joke. This is what goes on every day at every school and it is all just a small case on the scale to what happened to Hannah.
Although I personally can not relate to Hannah, and not fully to all the characters that lost a classmate to a mental illness. I can relate to the characters that go to high school, that constantly see joking around but think nothing of it. I can relate to the characters that have absolutely no idea that there are bigger problems in other peoples lives. Which is every single child that receives the tapes. Five days a week, 34 weeks a year, 13 years of our lives, just like these college kids, we see bullying, but think nothing of it. At the moment I will be in the same classes as kids with suicidal thoughts, kids suffering from mental illnesses and kids dreading school the next day. Just like Hannah’s classmates, I have absolutely no idea who these people are, and if I did, I would have absolutely no idea how to help them. By reading 13 Reasons Why, it made me think about what other people are going through, how me, like the tape receiving college kids, don’t understand that others have bigger problems than me and how they are fighting fights bigger than I am. It made, think of little jokes we all say to people, could be affecting this in a much bigger way. It challenged my thoughts and made me step outside my usual way of thinking. I wasn’t wrapped up in my own head but instead starting to think about what other people could be going through, that they could actually be suffering. Personally, I believe, this book doesn’t just connect to me, but to every high school student. I don’t know one kid that hasn’t been a victim or instigated bullying, teasing or joking. This is not just a problem at school as well, we carry it with us to the workforce. Our insecurities really leave us and the harmful or harmless banter is never-ending. 13 Reasons Why doesn’t just show us the domino effect, but what every day, men woman and children suffer.
I think by Jay Asher addressing real life issues, that may not always be in the front of our minds, issues that are hard to bring up but a reality for us all, makes it easier to create strong connections to the characters. I felt like, from the beginning to end of this fiction novel, I could make strong connections with them which made their situation easier to understand and more realistic from my point of view. Even though I have never experienced a classmate commit suicide, and hope to never witness this, I felt a connection with them through not knowing what they had done wrong but causing or being part of the domino effect for Hannah. As every high school student is apart of this or witnesses it every day without taking any notice. In conclusion, I really enjoined reading this book as it made me think about what could actually be going on in other peoples lives around me and it made me reflect on how I treated others and if I was in any place caught up in anyone’s domino effect.