Thirteen Reasons Why

I'm finally reading Thirteen Reasons Why--started it on the subway this morning.  There were unhappy babies, women yelling at men on cell phones, and a kid kicking me--and I couldn't be distracted. I'm only about 70 pages in, but--wow. This takes a dark strain of teenage thought and takes it a step further--in this case, what if a high school girl kills herself--and leaves audio tapes, maps, explanations for the people who affected her decision? The male author does an amazing job of getting inside a young woman's head--and analyzing a life just as a young woman would.

The website is also pretty amazing.

I'm seriously considering ditching a coffee date and a Literary Death Match to stay home and read. If I go, I may just light up the Bowery Poetry Club with my phone--using it as a light to read more.

So, yes. Market-tested, Gatekeeper approved. Just like Kix.


Did you read it? Love it? Hate it? Throw it across the room? Buy it for your kids? 

New poll to the right.




16 comments:

shertz said...

I read this over a year ago and still think about it all the time. Loved it.

Brittany said...

I read this before it came out and thought that it was a beautiful read. Dark, but so believable. High school can be an unfairly difficult time for some people and kids these days can be so horrible to each other.

In fact, now that you've brought it up, maybe I'll give it another read...

Lisa Marie Miles said...

I have this book and it's on my list to read. I just read Saving Zoe and got a little depressed reading it, so I don't want to jump into anything remotely dark just yet. I'm sticking with some Judy Blume for now:)

Ally said...

I have a love/disappointment relationship with it. The concept is amazing. I loved it. The ending....meh. Wasn't really thrilled. But overall, yes, booknerd love all over the place.

And doesn't the boy just call to mind Michael Cera? I pictured his face in my head the entire time I was reading.

As far as letting my 12 yr old read it....ummm, the jury is still out on that one. At her age, I was reading much heavier stuff, and some mental images can't be erased. So I'm not sure yet.

Agency Gatekeeper said...

Amazingly, I'm not finding it depressing-dark, I'm finding it exciting-dark--so far.

I find myself almost giddy with the excitement of reading it. But, a moment ago, I was trying to describe the book to my boss, who had a very different reaction. Yes--it's very dark. It's a really unfortunate proposition. But, at the same time--amazingly, on Mr. Asher's part--the book is fun. He's achieved something quite incredible--the "have your reader have *much* more fun than your protagonist" problem.

Is it disrespectful? I don't think so--I think it's just dynamic.

What do you guys think? How is it that these books on unfortunate topics (Hunger Games, too) are highly palatable--and that our reactions don't match the subject matter we describe to our friends? Are we just book-cynical? Or is there something beyond the subject matter itself that draws us in?

Ally said...

I should also add - I couldn't put it down. Read it in one sitting.

Agency Gatekeeper said...

Ally,
I'm sure I'd be an overprotective parent--but I don't think I'd let a 12-year-old read it, even a very sophisticated one--as I'm sure your child is.

But 16+...probably. Uncomfortably, but probably.

That's a good point. I haven't finished it yet--and I can't see any way that it can have a good ending.

We shall see.

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

I read it. I loved it. I was disturbed. I was amazed. I missed a friend who killed himself. I wanted to be a better writer when I finished.

I have yet to be shocked by a "taboo" subject in YA. I went to good schools, lived in a great area of town, always got good grades, had a loving and involved family, and was basically "a good kid."

BUT, as a teen I saw and dealt with suicide, death, drugs, drug overdoses, sex, teenage pregnancies, eating disorders, abusive parents, affairs with teachers, and all the other real life stuff parents hope their children will never be subjected to.

The thing is, it's out there. I was lucky enough to have AMAZING parents who I could turn to and TALK WITH about this kind of stuff. But many kids don't, or their scared, or feel uncomfortable talking about those topics with adults. I applaud authors like Jay who aren't afraid to address the "dark" subjects in their novels.

These dark topics are real. They are happening in small towns, big cities, high school hallways, and everywhere else in the world.

Books like 13 Reasons can help kids understand, cope, question, and maybe feel safe enough to reach out and talk to others kids about the "scary" stuff.

Oh, and I can't tell you how many kids at my dance studio have said how "cool" this book is. Any time kids use cool and books in the same sentence I have to smile.

Jay's blog is great too.

Agency Gatekeeper said...

I agree, Karen--no matter how sheltered the upbringing, it's likely all of these topics will be dealt with by the average teenager. Pretending that teens live conflict-free lives is about as absurd as trying to make a conflict-free YA novel a bestseller.

And this is an excellent point--when kids can't talk to their parents, where do they go for understanding? Oh yeah--books. Thank you, publishing.

Tory said...

Hi, AG! I loved this book from the moment I read the synopsis, and agree that many people form an opinion on the premise (suicide) too quickly! This book was definitely one I couldn't put down.

Anonymous said...

Tricky one...I didn't vote in the poll because my answer wasn't quite "don't approve" of the dark topic but rather "can't handle this particular dark topic." I had a friend commit suicide in high school so it's a little too close to home to enjoy--or not freak out--reading a book about it. I'm sure it's wonderfully written, but I'm sitting this one out.

I just wish someone had warned me before I watched Dead Poet's Society...

Corinne O'Flynn said...

TBR!

Nichole Giles said...

A friend offered to loan this one to me. I was supposed to get it last Saturday, but apparently someone else took it first. If I don't get it this Saturday, I think I'll take a trip to the book store.

I think we love to read about these topics because it's a way of experiencing without really experiencing. You know? We get all the emotion and heartache, without the real life loss. We identify with these characters. And if the book is written well, we also get the feelings of hope. So, we know life isn't perfect, but no matter what happens, there is always hope. Hope for something better.

At least, that's what I'd like my teens get out of the books they read. And maybe things they experience in books will help them make better choices in life.

It may be a pipe dream. But I have hope, too.

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

I adored the book. It made me wish I had kept my preteen to high school graduate diaries...

Agency Gatekeeper said...

Sharon--you didn't keep them?!

Lindsay said...

I loved the book. It left me with such a profound sense of loss (I know, not usually a good thing but in this case, it was amazing). I loved the acknowledgements too - 13 of them.