Sunday, February 21, 2010

Good Grief

Thirteen Reasons why has received a lot of attention. The premise is simple. Hannah kills herself and sends out tapes to various people because they are the reason she killed herself.

A box is mailed to Clay and inside are the tapes. On the tapes is Hannah's voice as she talks about why she decided to kill herself.

First I have to say that the premise sounds interesting but the way it was executed had my head spinning. I dislike books that are choppy, and this one was. For instance Hannah would be explaining something and then in the middle of it Clay would say something to contradict her. There wasn't a flow to the story, which is troublesome for me.

Now, I want to give a warning because this may sound too harsh, or unkind so if you are sensitive you may not want to read this......

Hannah was the most annoying character I have ever read. I had no sympathy for her at all. It's probably a good thing that she offed herself because she would have had a hard time in the "real world."

I might have had more sympathy for her if the reasons why she killed herself were good ones. She gets upset because she is put on a "hot butt list" and someone grabs her butt. Seriously? Common. Some guy brags that he gets lucky with her, which is untrue. The list of reasons why she kills herself are piety and, well, frankly dumb. How many other teenage girls haven't gone through this? How many other teens haven't had their feelings hurt. You don't see them running out and killing themselves.

I've read some angst filled teen books in my day. One that comes to mind is Endgame by Nancy Garden. The main character is picked on so much that he can't take it anymore and decides to mow down his classmates in a hail of gunfire. Did I think what he did was right? No, but I was at least sympathetic to his plight. I understood why he did it. I have no sympathy for Hannah. I'm not sure why she killed herself.

A few people I haven spoken to about this book loved it. They said the author is trying to make us see how are actions effect other people. I get that. But ya know what. People are going to say stuff that is going to offend you. People are going to hurt you even when they don't intend on doing it. People will be mean. People will hate you. That's life.

I am sympathetic to those who suffer from depression. It's just not all in your mind. Its something more. Its a chemical imbalance. I also understand why some people would choose to end their lives. Sometimes its all too much, but if Hannah was suffering from depression the author did a horrible job of portraying that.

Overall, I disliked this book, a lot. My students seem to enjoy it(for the most part). I think if someone is looking for a sad book then this would be a good read for them. However, students who have trouble reading may not enjoy the choppy writing style.

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