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“There is but one truly serious philosophical problem,” writes Albert Camus in “The Myth of Sisyphus,” “and that is suicide.”
If you share Camus’ opinion, there are not many 21st century books which may interest you more than “Thirteen Reasons Why” by Jay Asher, an eerie and shattering anatomy of a teenage suicide.
Performed by the girl who has committed it herself.
Who Should Read “Thirteen Reasons Why”? And Why?
Nowadays, for the first time in history, more people die from self-inflicted wounds than in bloody conflicts.
And, unfortunately, many of them are teenagers.
Just in the U.S., about 4,600 people aged between 10 and 26 kill themselves each year, making suicide the third leading cause of death in youths.
Jay Asher reminds us that there is not one straightforward answer to this question. In fact, he says that there are always many reasons why, listing thirteen in the case of an invented girl which somehow feels all too real.
So read the book so that you can understand better. There are many people in pain around you, and some of them desperately need some help.
If you are one of them, please call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) anytime from anywhere. It’s free and confidential.
If you know someone who needs some help, visit http://www.bethe1to.com/ and learn what you can do
Find out more at https://13reasonswhy.info/.
Jay Asher Biography
Jay Asher is an American YA writer born on September 30, 1975.
He debuted in 2007 with “Thirteen Reasons Why” which won him praise from his peers and several awards. It also inspired a critically acclaimed Netflix TV Show, the second season of which should premier in 16 days.
Four years later, he co-authored (with Carolyn Mackler) “The Future of Us,” and last year he published his third novel “What Light.”
An unnamed narrator with a headache is mailing a package to a certain Jenny, the next person on Hannah Baker’s list.
We have no idea what any of these things mean until the second chapter (which happens “yesterday, one hour after school”) when we finally learn the name of our narrator.
It’s Clay Jensen, a shy high school student, who apparently had a crush on the girl with the list, Hannah Baker.
“Had” not as in “he’s in love with another girl at the moment.”
But “had” as in “Hannah Baker killed herself two weeks before these events take place.”
However, before she did that, she had prepared the package mailed in the first chapter.
We learn that it consists of seven cassette tapes, numbered with blue nail polish on each side but the backside of the last tape.
All in all, there are 13 different stories.
About 13 different people.
Which are the 13 reasons why Hannah Baker had decided to take her own life.
Also – there are two rules: 1) listen to the tapes meant for you; 2) and then send the package to the next person on the list.
Hence, the Hannah Baker list.
Here it is in full.
Reason 1: Justin Foley (Cassette 1: Side A)
Hannah and Justin kissed one day, but Justin, being a boy, said that they shared something more than a kiss. This started a rumor that “Hannah Baker is a slut.” As we learn from herself this early: “Hannah Baker is not, and never was, a slut.”
But as we also learn: “everyone knows you can’t disprove a rumor.”
Things start to go downhill from hereon.
Reason 2: Alex Standall (Cassette 1: Side B)
Just like Hannah, Alex had a list of his own. However, his was a lot more superficial. And according to it, Hannah had the “Best Ass of the Freshman Class.” Which doesn’t go well with Alex’s ex-girlfriend Jessica Davis.
Speaking of which –
Reason 3: Jessica Davis (Cassette 2: Side A)
After Alex’s “hot or not” list became the talk of the school, Jessica confronted Hannah and slapped her, leaving her with a scar on her forehead.
And then she furthered the initial rumor by telling everybody that Hannah stole Alex from her.
Reason 4: Tyler Down (Cassette 2: Side B)
Tyler is a photographer, but also – according to Hannah – a Peeping Tom. Which means that he may have taken photos of her through her window.
Reason 5: Courtney Crimson (Cassette 3: Side A)
Courtney started a rumor that she had found “sex toys” in Hannah’s bedroom. Which, everybody believes – once nobody questions the fact whether you’re a slut or not.
Reason 6: Marcus Cooley (Cassette 3: Side B)
Marcus tried taking advantage of Hannah in a booth at Rosie’s Diner. She pushed him to the floor, and he called her a tease.
Reason 7: Zach Dempsey (Cassette 4: Side A)
Zach tried comforting Hannah after her break-up with Marcus, but when she didn’t respond the way he expected to, he stole some “notes of encouragement” for Hannah by her Peer Communications classmates.
Reason 8: Ryan Shaver (Cassette 4: Side B)
Hannah met Ryan at a poetry class. And made the mistake of trusting him. After a while, Ryan stole one of her poems and published it anonymously in the school’s newspaper. Nobody knew who had written the poem, but Hannah takes the criticism to her heart.
An interesting trivia: the poem in the series was actually written by Sarah Kay.
Here’s how it sounds:
High school students can be heartless.
Reason 9: Clay Jensen (Cassette 5: Side A)
Wait – Clay was supposed to be the good guy here, wasn’t it?
Don’t worry: he still is. He’s on the tapes so that Hannah can inform us that Clay was the only one who was nice to her. The two even kissed.
And, unfortunately, never spoke afterward.
Reason 10: Justin Foley (Cassette 5: Side B)
You know things are about to get bad when you see the same name for the second time around. Yes – it’s Justin from the first tape!
And he’s here because he knew about Bryce Walker (that’s the name of the very, very bad guy in our story) raping the unconscious Jessica (Reason n. 3) and he decided to say nothing about it.
Reason 11: Jenny Kurtz (Cassette 6: Side A)
Jenny Kurtz is a cheerleader. Once, while driving Hannah Baker home, she hit a stop sign and told nobody. This led to a fatal accident killing one of Hannah and jenny’s classmates.
Reason 12: Bryce Walker (Cassette 6: Side B)
Remember the guy who raped an unconscious Jessica back on Cassette 5?
Well, he also raped a conscious Hannah later on.
God – there’s so much pain in this book!
Reason 13: Mr. Porter (Cassette 7: Side A)
Mr. Porter is Hannah’s guidance counselor. He’s also someone who should have taken his job more seriously – since he didn’t believe Hannah when she told him she was suicidal.
Thirteen Reasons Why Epilogue
Unfortunately, this was just too much to take.
So, Hannah decided to end her life, leaving many people heartbroken – and very few changed. That’s why she hopes that the tapes will have some effect on these people and that “neither one will be easy” for the involved.
And the tapes do have an effect on at least one person.
In the middle of the book, Clay Jensen runs into Skye Miller, his middle school crush on the city bus. Afterward, he wonders why she is always so isolated and alone.
By the end of the book, he realizes that the answer may be more frightening than he had suspected.
Feeling “pain and anger,” “sadness and pity” and “most surprising of all, hope” – he sees her at school and reaches out to her:
“Skye,” he says, and we feel that maybe – just maybe – he has just saved a life.
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“Thirteen Reasons Why PDF Quotes”No one knows for certain how much impact they have on the lives of other people. Oftentimes, we have no clue. Yet we push it just the same. Click To Tweet A lot of you cared, just not enough. Click To Tweet But you can't get away from yourself. You can't decide not to see yourself anymore. You can't decide to turn off the noise in your head. Click To Tweet You can't go back to how things were. How you thought they were. All you really have is...now. Click To Tweet Sometimes we have thoughts that even we don't understand. Thoughts that aren't even true—that aren't really how we feel—but they're running through our heads anyway because they're interesting to think about. Click To Tweet
Our Critical Review
Back in the 18th century, Germany’s best ever writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote “The Sorrows of Young Werther,” a semi-autobiographical novel in which – big spoiler alert ahead! – the young protagonist commits suicide at the end of the book because of (what else?) unrequited love.
The book saved Goethe’s life but had a strange impact on its readers. Suddenly, people were not only dressing in the same way Werther does in the book, but they were also buying the same pistols and killing themselves in the exact same manner.
Few years after this book, Mozart authored a famous opera called, “The Magic Flute,” in which its principal protagonist Papageno – one more lovelorn youth – is helped by his friends who show him alternative ways to resolve his problems.
Strangely enough, “Thirteen Reasons Why” has been blamed for having inspired both the Werther Fever and the Papageno Effect.
After reading this book, some teenagers have been encouraged to commit suicide; others have found a reason to live.
And yet a third group have found thirteen reasons to help people in trouble.
Because it touches something profound.
“This book changed my life,” writes one reviewer at http://www.thirteenreasonswhy.com/. “Gave me more hope. And I encourage people to read this book. Especially my best friend, because for a while I saw her as Hannah. Without this book, I’m not sure I’d have the courage to stand up like I can today.”