Trigger warning: Please be aware that the following article contains written and visual material that may be triggering to people who have or are sensitive to topics such as depression, suicide, anxiety and grief.
As far as life-changing novels go, ’13 Reasons Why’ is high up there on the list. You guys know as well as we do that Jay Asher’s book is a masterpiece. It’s packed full of super emotional quotes and is one of the most powerful YA reads ever written.
For those that don’t know (where have you been… MARS?!) ’13 Reasons Why’ follows the aftermath of Hannah Baker’s devastating suicide.
The story starts with Clay Jensen finding a box of tapes outside his front door. After pressing play, Clay’s shocked to find out that the tapes were recorded by his crush, Hannah.
According to Hannah, Clay and 12 of his classmates are in some way responsible for her death and Clay’s put on an emotional rollercoaster trying to find out why. It’s a heartbreaking book, but one that has an incredibly important message.
What’s the message, you ask? Well, stop your speculating because we have an answer. Jay was recently asked whether he set out to write a message in ’13 Reasons Why’ and, unsurprisingly, it was at the top of his agenda.
“A lot of authors answer “no” to that questions, or at least say the book should speak for itself. And I can understand that, but I did have something I wanted to say; and because so many readers seem to understand it, I feel no reason to shy away from that question,” said Jay. “Basically, even though Hannah admits that the decision to take her life was entirely her own, it’s also important to be aware of how we treat others. Even though someone appears to shrug off a sideways comment or to not be affected by a rumour, it’s impossible to know everything else going on in that person’s life and how we might be adding to his/her pain. People do have an impact on the lives of others: that’s undeniable. My favourite quote came from a girl who said Thirteen Reasons Why made her want to “be wonderful”. How awesome is that!”
So, there we have it. That’s the secret (or not so secret) message Jay wants you to take away from ’13 Reasons Why’. The novel’s already changing the way people treat their peers and Jay’s received a mind blowing response from fans since it was published.
“I’ve received many inspiring letters from readers saying it made them more conscious of how they treat others, as well as the importance of really reaching out when they need help and not simply dropping hints,” he said. “With adults, my fingers were crossed that they would see this as an opportunity to begin a dialogue with teens about some important issues. Thankfully, they’ve jumped at the chance. It’s been wonderful to hear about some of the conversations that have started.”
So next time you’re at school and it looks like the person in your Maths class needs a friend or someone to talk to, go over and sit with them. Little acts of kindness can make someone’s day.
To find out more about ’13 Reasons Why’ by Jay Asher, click here to buy a copy. Equally, if you’re affected by any of the issues raised in ’13 Reasons Why’, please visit www.penguin-platform.tumblr.com/UKHelplines for a list of UK-based support organisations that can help.