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Posts Tagged ‘suicide’

Remember how I said I liked books that build stories around things in real life? Well, I also like stories that build around things that aren’t real life, but seem to be. I know, all of that makes a ton of sense, but I promise you’ll get it when I review today’s book Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher.

The title on the book is written like Th1rteen R3asons Why but I’m not sure that’s how you write it in a review such as this. I like both. But I’m going to stick with the more searchable way to write it. Maybe I should just write 13 Reasons Why because kids these days…lazy, I tell ya. Can’t even write out the number thirteen.

Th1rteen, 13, Thirteen

You may have heard about this book, especially if you read Entertainment Weekly because it is being made into a movie in the near future. I don’t want to go all hipster on you, but I read this book the same year it came out. Probably even days or weeks after it did. I just happened to be perusing the book store and bought it in hardcover. Yeah, so, I knew it before it was cool to know it.

The book centers around two people. In present time, it is around Clay, a boy who receives a box of cassette tapes (what up, 90s) from a classmate named Hannah who has recently killed herself. Naturally, Hannah is the other main character, but we only hear from her via her tapes and in Clay’s memories.

Hannah leaves thirteen tapes, hence the title. She requests that Clay visits locations she specifies and also delivers tapes to people she specifies. (Clay listening to the tapes and us “hearing” it is what I’m talking about in the first paragraph. Make sense? Probably not. But it’s cool.) Clay is understandably horrified as he listens to each tape and discovers the secrets of why Hannah decided to kill herself. He worries if he was one of the thirteen reasons she is no longer alive.

This book is compelling and suspenseful, although the worst thing that can happen has, in theory, already happened. Hannah is gone. But is there something worse? Knowing that maybe you were one of the 13 reasons a young girl killed herself? Was it one big event or a series of small events?

Thirteen Reasons Why will make you second guess every interaction you have with someone. I love that it shows a chain reaction of hatefulness and hurt. (Obviously, I don’t love hate and hurt. I just love the storytelling. Stop thinking mean things about me.) You rarely in real life get to read or hear about the events that lead to someone’s death, and it is a unique thing to be able to “see.” I love that Jay Asher uses Hannah’s voice, literally, to tell the story through her cassette tapes.

Ever since I was a little kid, I wondered if things I had done led to something that harmed someone else. (I KNOW. I’m a weirdo.) Like say I narrowly missed getting hit by a car in my own car, which led to them spinning out of control and getting into an accident. What if I was too preoccupied to notice? Everything you see or read about time travel, in the made up sense, emphasizes that any little thing you change when traveling back in time could affect the future. I feel like this is sort of the same thing. In the book, you read Hannah’s accounts of what happened in her life that led to her death. What if any one of those situations were changed? It could have changed the outcome of her life.

This is one of those “Just Do It” novels. Just read it. It says that it’s a YA novel, but whatever. I know all of you have either read Harry Potter or The Hunger Games and those are totally YA. This book is amazing. So don’t be afraid to venture into the YA section and pick it up. You won’t regret it. Who knows, maybe it could change your future. WoooOOOooo…spooky.

Also, just remember that I knew about it before it was cool. So I guess I’m totally a hipster. Here’s some hipster lessons if you’re not sure how to be one just like me. I’m over it.

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Now, in starting this blog, I vowed (in my mind) to give readers a variety of books to choose from and give honest reviews. The book I’m about to review definitely fits with the title of my blog in that it is a book that isn’t boring, but I think maybe the topic was such a downer, I couldn’t really love it. I liked this book a lot and from a psychological standpoint, I loved learning about the inner-workings of the human mind, especially one that is depressed enough to attempt or succeed in committing suicide. (I sound like a psycho. I don’t LOVE what they did or attempt or that they were depressed. I find it interesting and sad. I like books that depress me, okay? Don’t judge. Sorry I’m not sorry.)

I can't find an image for this book that is working for me, so enjoy this postsecret that reminded me of working at Disney. Not because we had coffee issues, though I'm sure there have been many. People are so entitled. Now, back to the book...

The author, Jill Bialosky, had a younger sister who killed herself at the age of 21. She is quite a bit older than her sister (Kim) and is devastated by her death. From Jill’s own words,

“Kim’s suicide has forever altered the way in which I respond to the world around me. It has transformed the way I think and feel about intimacy, motherhood, friendship, and ones responsibilities to others. Her early death changed every preconceived idea I had of suicide, depression, suffering, parenthood, and our debt to another person. Before Kim ended her life, I thought, like most people, that someone who would take his or her own life was somehow different from the rest of us. I was wrong.”

That passage in the intro to the book explains this book perfectly. Jill poetically spells out her journey in attempting to understand why her sister did what she thought she had to do. She sees psychologists, researches suicide and faces her own guilt that she was not able to save her sister. She transcribes passages from Kim’s diary that lets the readers into her sister’s mind. She shares her own poetry and poetry of others to better explain how she as a survivor feels. I do know a fair amount about depression and suicide, but Jill definitely gave me a lot to think about. You may not be able to ever truly know a person, or ever save them if they don’t want to be saved. That’s a hard thing to realize.

I think this book was hard for me to love because of the content, naturally and as previously mentioned, but also because the whole time I just wished for Kim’s death to be an accident. She gets in a fight with her boyfriend and locks herself in her garage, car running. She leaves a suicide note. But part of me just can’t let go of the possibility that maybe she just fell asleep. She was drunk and high. Maybe she wanted to go and just got tired? Maybe that’s all suicide ever is. You want to go somewhere and you just get tired, but a different kind of tired. You learn in the book that not all attempted suicides or successful suicides are planned for a long time – it’s like the person just snaps and realizes that it’s what they want to do. That is so sad to me. There’s no way for someone to help or intervene.

I don’t have much more to say about this book and I feel weird trying to be funny about such a sensitive topic, so I’ll leave this review short but sweet. (Sweet? Maybe short but bittersweet.) This book is a great read. Like I said, I won’t lie, I did not love this book, but I did like it and it’s great enough to make it to my blog so that counts for a lot. To me. And it should to you, too. If you’re interested in psychology at all, you’ll like or maybe even love this book. If you’re interested in the bond of family at all, you’ll like or maybe even love this book. If you’re interested in mysteries, you’ll probably like this book. I feel that it’s a huge mystery that may never be solved. So I guess if you’re interested in Unsolved Mysteries, this one’s for you. That’s not a joke. Go read this book!

I need to include something happy now after such a sad topic. Here’s a video that makes me cry with laughter every time I watch it. There’s a lot of swearing, so if that offends you, you’re fucking out of luck. Maybe there’s a bleeped version. But watch this if you love cats just as much as I do.

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