Sunday, June 28, 2009

Thought-Provoking for Teenagers... and adults

I've recently read Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, given to me as a proof by Mary and had to put up a post about it...

I found it quite shocking really but raced through it and couldn't take my eyes off the page, it's a must read for enlightened teenagers and adults.

The book is told from the perspective of Clay, a teenage boy in an ordinary American town. Everything about life for Clay is quite ordinary, even despite the tragic and shocking suicide of one his schoolmates, until he receives a box of tapes in the mail. As he begins to listen to them he realise the tapes were made by Hannah Baker, now dead, the girl who had committed suicide the precious week.

In the tapes she catalogues the thirteen reasons why she committed suicide and instructions for the tapes to be passed on to the thirteen people who, she claims, were part of her momentous and irreversible decision. As Clay listens to her words he finds he is one of those people and he also discovers the names of the other 12.

I won't tell too much more about the story, I would urge you to read it. It is a powerful tale and completely engrossing. Kids in America seem to be responding very positively to this book and from reading it learning to recognise the power of their actions on others and maybe it can have a really positive effect on young people reading this book and make them understand that their actions can have very serious consequences.

However, what troubled me about the whole thing is the idea proposed by the book, that other people can be responsible for someone's decision to take their own life. I feel that this is the wrong message to send out. Suicide, whether in teenagers or adults, is a very personal and tragic decision and the proposition of this book - that the suicide of one person can be attributed to the actions of another - is a dangerous one. Suicide is such a complicated and serious issue and to espouse a theory that a person's decision to end their life can lie at the door of other people's actions demeans everything involved in this terrible issue and has heart-breaking connotations for those left behind.

It is a very strong, shocking and unique book and teenagers who have read it are raving about it so I would highly recommend you do read it, see what you think and post a comment here and let us know your thoughts...
There's a website devoted to the book worth checking out:

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