Sunday, January 8, 2012

Review: Thirteen Reasons Why

Thirteen Reasons Why
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s somewhat fitting that this is my first review…I just finished the novel and am still trying to gather myself.

Initially I didn’t want to read this book, I didn’t see much in the concept and didn’t want the burden of such a tale. However, this novel and I have been running into each other off and on over the last few months. I go onto Amazon searching for books, or read reviews on others I’ve read or walk through a bookstore and stumble upon it in the Art section while I’ll looking at a coffee table book about tree houses. I couldn’t get away from it, so when I received a gift card to Barnes and Noble and found it in the kids section while looking for level 2 readers for my 6 year old I picked it up and read the jacket, again.

I was informed it had been translated into 31 languages and by the review and comments it has changed lives and given people a new perspective on how the treat people and that it was in many opinions ‘one the best books they ever read’. Okay, I’ll bite.

I bought it and a new Moleskin journal.

I started the book last night and finished it about 45 minutes ago.

This is how it went for me…

I really struggled to finish, I didn’t want it to end but I wanted it over with. Conflicting right? Well, going in you know how the book ends it’s like Titanic, the ship sinks. Well in this case Hannah dies. No matter how badly you don’t want her to you know she does, so I didn’t want it to get to that point. On the other hand, the story was torturous and not in the way Clay saw it and not in the way 99.9% of people would see it. I was not troubled by the guilt expressed or the what if’s and if onlyies. That I believe is what most people got out of it. The life changing realization that what you do and say matters, and that no matter what you think someone is watching and what you do will and does affect someone else, whether you want it to or not. I got all that. Unfortunately, I also I little more, I got a glimpse of what my life almost was.

I was as lost as Hannah when I was a teen. I wanted to kill myself many times. I had no support and had the want so badly it was euphoric, the finality of it, the belief that everything would stop and I had the power to do it. However, I was unsuccessful, repeatedly.

Funny how an overachiever could fail at something over and over again and a decade later it’s a success. I wished over and over again back then that I was weak enough to go with it. I just couldn’t see myself hurting others. Really, that’s the only thing that kept me going, not the will to live or the want to make it through but not wanting to make it tough on anyone else. Not wanting to burden my family with my weakness.

How does it come to that? For me, it wasn’t as dramatic and specific as Hannah’s snowball effect. For me it was slower and darker. It was the culmination of a lifetime of rejection and the belief that I was worthless and the fact that I was shitty at selecting friends.

To this day I don’t know why I wasn’t weak enough I just know I wasn’t meant to be. I’ve learned only recently that I am a fighter through and through. I fight with words and my fist (at Krav Maga, of course).

This brings me back to the novel. I am trying to rationalize my inability to avoid this book and then my subsequent reaction to it. I hated the book, but I think the hate is in the ‘hating another person because they’re so much like you’ kind of way. I saw my weaknesses and saw someone give in to them when I know for a fact they are beatable. I was devastated by this book. I usually read books at least twice but this one will remain shelved for the foreseeable future. I don’t know I can read it again. If I do it will mean I have evolved in a way I don’t see right now. I hope it comes to that, but right now I am still trying to figure out it all out.

In the end, I have been changed by Hannah’s story, I just don’t know how and if I like it. I feel haunted by her and her actions. I wish I could tell her…well there is so much I wish right now. One of them is to stop crying but I know it, like many things, will come with time and understanding.

As for me I need a light book now, maybe Sarah Dessen or Jane Austen. Something where you have a pretty good idea where it’s going and just really enjoy the ride.

I am exhausted, truly, worn out. That does mean one very important thing, ‘Thirteen Reasons Why’ was an amazing book.

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