Hi everyone I’m back with a new book review for you 😀 . This book made me think deeply. It really did. Check this out.
Firstly I would like to thank my local book store – Agenda Bookshop for sponsoring me this book.
Secondly, I advise you to keep an open mind when reading my review this time as this can be a sensitive subject for many, I might have a different opinion than most about this tale.
After finishing the book I don’t even know exactly how I feel about it yet. I had a mixture of positive and negative vibes, the best way to share my thoughts exactly, I think is by breaking down how I felt into sections. A – Why I read it, B- Positive and finally C- Negative.
Brief overview of the story before I move over to my next point:
The book is about a highschool student that took her own life by swallowing a bunch of pills. Yeah rough I know, totally shocking and sad. Before ending her life she wanted people to understand why and more scarily, because of who she did it.
‘’If you’re listening, you’re too late.’’ – From the 13 reasons why book cover.
Out of being hurt and feeling voiceless and unheard she recorded 13 tapes for the 13 people that because of their actions, she felt the need give up and end her life. She made sure that her tapes will be heard after she passed away and made it that each tape was about each person, having her explaining in detail how their actions drove her to do this.
‘’ I hope you’re ready, because I’m about to tell you the story of my life. More specifically, why my life ended. And if you’re listening to these tapes, you’re one of the reasons why. ‘’ – Hannah Baker
She blackmailed them into passing them on to each other by threatening to publish a second copy of the tapes publicly if they don’t pass them on (she had made an arrangement with someone to publish them in her name if they are not listened to as she intended).
Our main character here is Clay (apart from the girl from the tapes Hannah Baker). The entire book is all about Clay’s (PS Clay is the one you can see in the GIF above) journey while listening to the tapes that Hannah left. It was his turn to hear them. He could not believe that he was on one of the tapes and went through an emotional roller coaster to discover what she wanted to let him know.
So, onto my next point.
A.Why I chose to read this book (and not watch the series).
There was so much hype around this story, when the series came out many of my friends, colleagues etc kept telling me what an amazing show it is and that how much it teaches people. Ok, so I observed their reactions to watching the show. Mostly where the same (I will not completely give away what their reactions were for now as it will be mentioned in my later points). At this point, I am surrounded by people that are loving every bit of this story, so I got curious and chose it to be my next book to read when I discovered that there was also a book of course. I always prefer the book to the movie/series.
So that is why I chose to read this story, to see what all the fuss is about.
Everyone has their own point of view, here is mine.
B.The positive points that this book made me think about:
Don’t get me wrong, I do not think that there was anything fun about this story, what I mean by positive is a lesson. This story has lessons.
This book. I’m sure that Jay Asher (our author here) wrote this story with good intentions. Meaning that he wanted the world to see how powerful and dangerous words can be and the importance of how we treat others and how younger generations have more sensitive minds as they are still growing up and getting to know who they really are.
When I was reading along and learning why this girl felt that she needed to give up on life I could see and relate to some of the things she was describing that she went through (as always I will try my best not to spoil the story for you).
The tapes vary in many ways, some tapes are much harder to read through….because some of the actions that she describes occurring to her are quite cruel, there is though….one good tape (I will not say whom about or what she says).
Most of us look back at our high school (here in Malta we call it secondary school) years and say ‘’thank god they are over’’, others say ‘’I wish I was still there’’ do you see my point here? There are TWO perspectives. TWO.
Hannah wanted the people around her to understand that too because in the first tape she talks about how her life at school instantly became harder because of a rumor that started going around about her and another boy (he actually started this rumor).
Yes, a rumor. A rumor that everyone at her school started to believe and started to spread, people were treating her differently. She was true to herself and knew that it was all lies but when people gang up on you like that you start to feel bullied and betrayed. So back to my first point, there are TWO perspectives. TWO points of view. The real story that actually happened and the rumor that didn’t actually happen.If the people at her school realised this (the two points of view) they wouldn’t have easily believed that rumor but they did. We should not believe everything we hear about our peers and even worse – we should not encourage spreading gossip. If people gossip with you, they will gossip about you- Keep that in mind. Lessons.
“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.” — Hannah Baker
Talk about ideas, cool subjects, music, sports, movies or anything else with your friends, just avoid gossiping. If you don’t want to be gossiped about, don’t gossip about other people fair and square. Now, I know that we are not perfect none of us and sometimes we don’t realise when we are doing it, but we always have a choice to stop or change the conversation. Always take your time to think before speaking, especially if it’s about someone else. Don’t always believe what you hear.
Ok rant over about that.
This book also made me realise how important it is to ask your friends ‘’are you ok? You wanna talk? Wanna go for a coffee and chill and talk?’’ if you see that they are showing signs of an emotional struggle – by that I mean, extremely sad, isolating themselves, not making an effort to socialize… you know. Don’t get me wrong, not all sad moments of our life will lead to what Hannah suffered but simply asking your friend if they’re ok is something so simple yet, great. Maybe they have just been through a horrible break up, or they just lost someone, or they didn’t pass the one exam that they studied so hard for, or they didn’t get that awesome job that they wanted…. I myself have had days when I’m not feeling my best or not in my best mood, talking to someone always makes me feel better. It can never go wrong if you are relaxing and just saying out loud how you feel and then realise that it’s not the end of the world, learn from you life venture and move on and then eventually laugh about it. But sometimes if we keep everything all bottled up the negative thoughts will take over and we will be stuck in an endless cycle of negativity.
What I just wrote about asking someone if they are ok is simple right ? Check on your friends? You’re probably saying ‘’well duhh kim’’. Well if someone would have asked those questions to Hannah she might have not driven herself to end her life. See it now ?
One of my favourite sayings is ‘’Always be kind, you never know what someone might be going through.’’ Hannah’s fellow students and ‘’friends’’ failed to do so.
Be kind always, even if to someone that has hurt you. Do it as a reflection of what a good person you are and out of having a strong character. There are good people in this world if you can’t find one, be one.
This book has also made me see how bad bullying can get and that how the ‘’bully’’ is the one with major issues not the ‘’bullied’’. If a person enjoys causing pain and suffering to another, they indeed have a problem. How can you inflict emotional pain on another human being and go on about with your day like it was nothing ? Or by saying that you were just joking ? How can you make the victim believe that they have a problem when the one picking on them is you? Some of the things that Hannah describes in the tapes are very realistic and that can easily happen between students at school. This story may have been good for parents of teens to see and remember how hard high school life can be sometimes. Especially when you feel all alone.
I mentioned earlier about all the reactions that I saw in the people that watched the series and were telling me about it. They intrigued me because everyone was saying how much this series made them realise how careful we need to be about how we treat people around us…..but when they were showing me this reaction I kept thinking to myself, I want to look at this in a different way and that is why I have come to my final point. The negative side of this story. My other perspective.
B.The not so positive thoughts that this book made me think about:
Ok so, like I said earlier in my review, I’m sure that this book was carefully written with good intentions but a subject as sensitive as such can have many different effects on many different people.
It is a book full of lessons true, I learnt from it. Learnt how important it is to treat others nicely and to think before you speak and to not miss certain signs of distress when around your friends.
But what I was not too keen on about this story is, how the act of suicide may have looked heroic to some. Bear with me, I will try to explain what I mean in the best way that I can.
Hannah is constantly talking during our book here since we are going through the tapes along with Clay. Clay makes sure to describe to us what her tone sounds like most of the time.
I read through tapes where you can see that her voice is now angry and stern as she’s describing an event that truly hurt her feelings and angried her. In other cases you can sense pure sadness, no anger detected….it goes on like this, all these different emotions that this girl goes through recorded on all theses different tapes.
In some tapes, the way she was addressing the person that she was talking about was in a way that seemed that she wanted them to truly feel guilty and hate themselves, I mean yeah they were not nice people but some cases were not as bad as others and by herself saying certain things and blaming them for ending her own life can lead them to do the same. Two wrongs don’t make a right I think. Don’t get me wrong, I still think that she is the victim here and that she did go through a lot but why behave like the people that bullied you if you know how it feels ?
“This time, for the first time, I saw the possibilities in giving up. I even found hope in it.” — Hannah Baker
Why make it look that ending your own life is the best thing to do ? There are so many different ways this could have been handled.
I feel really bad that Hannah felt so alone that she did what she did. But I don’t agree when people say poor thing….Yeah of course I get it, humans are very empathetic, towards the dead. That’s one of the issues that was bugging me here. None of the people I discussed this story with mentioned how suicide can affect the people left behind.
Don’t pity the dead, pity the living. By that I mean, her parents for example. Do you think that it was fair on them that she ended her life? I mean yeah she was bullied and it’s cruel, but her decision was quite selfish as well. Can you imagine being a parent and losing a child this way? I can’t.
Among the people that were cruel to Hannah there were also people that really cared for her and felt guilty that they didn’t see the signs.
What I mean by all this is that, if you have read this story or watched the series whilst going through a tough time in your life don’t let it influence you in making you think that it’s the best idea to do to make the people around you pay for what they did to you. Owe yourself the respect to speak up for yourself and seek help. It’s ok to seek help, it’s ok to admit that you’re going through a rough patch, most of us have bad days, many of us have been bullied but it’s the people among us that are brave enough to fight back are the people that I admire.
Fight back, don’t let bullies gang up on you. They smell fear.
It’s ok to be afraid, when you feel scared the universe is giving you a chance to be brave. So be brave and don’t give up. You deserve to be happy but only you can create your own happiness, no one is going to do it for you.
This review was written with good intentions, I hope you enjoyed it and thank you for reading. Sorry for the long post, this subject is sensitive for me, I have seen what suicide does to the family it leaves behind.
If you’re thinking about it seek help (google your local suicide prevention phone number), love yourself ❤ Life is beautiful, don’t end yours because someone treated you badly, prove them wrong ❤
Thank you for reading.
As always, peace :3
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