I read this book a long time ago, and I still think about it. I’ve postponed publishing this blog post for a long time because it’s something that is close to me, so personal that it’s difficult to talk about on such a public place. But guys, this book is important.
It’s got some pretty polarized reviews on Goodreads, but I am a firm believer that everyone should read it, and not for the reasons you might immediately think of.
A lot of people think that this is a book about Hannah, the girl who kills herself and leaves behind a tape with 13 of her reasons for doing so. But to me, this book isn’t about her at all. I don’t relate to her. She makes poor decisions. I got frustrated with her. I felt disgusted, and upset, and confused, and so so sad, and–like many other reviewers pointed out–I felt like she didn’t give us a good enough excuse to kill herself.
But that’s the point, isn’t it?
We are supposed to relate to Clay, and to the other people receiving those tapes. The ones who don’t understand everything. Clay understood more than most people, but even he was frustrated. To an outsider, no excuse seems like a good enough reason for suicide. It doesn’t matter if she was bullied more, neglected more, had fewer friends–it still wouldn’t be good enough to us.
That’s what it feels like in real life, too. It’s what it felt like when someone close to me committed suicide.
And all those people in the book should have noticed something was wrong, but they didn’t. And the people I’ve known who have killed themselves had plenty of warning signs, too. But no one noticed them. Or if they did, no one said anything.
This book isn’t about Hannah. It’s about Clay, and me, and you, and all of the other secondary characters in that book. We are the ones who can notice things. We can look closer; we can be kinder; and most of all, when we are worried about someone, we can ask them about it outright. Because suicide is important. This story conveys that, and is another step toward opening the dialogue about it.