Costa Reading

One girl with too many books.

The Problem Novel

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Teen suicide is something that should not be happening as much as it does. There are so many teens that haven’t even started their lives yet they’re in so much pain that they’re willing to cut them short. Some of these teens suffer from severe mental issues such as depression yet many are simply pushed beyond the limits of what they can deal with. Whether they’re being bullied or the victim of some other sort of abuse, these teens aren’t able to stand anymore of it.

What Thirteen Reasons Why teaches teens is that they just might have the power to save the life of someone. It might be somebody they’re close to or it might be a complete stranger. We don’t know the power of a few kind words or a smile might have on somebody. Books like TRW are here to bring this message to as many people as possible.

TRW is told from two different points of view. One of these is the pov of Clay, a nice guy who receives an innocuous looking package in the mail. The other pov is of Hannah, the girl who sent the package. The package is full of tapes that Hannah made that are being sent to very specific people. The tapes are full of the story of why Hannah killed herself. As Clay listens he learns that Hannah has sent the tapes to the people responsible for her suicide. However, he can’t figure out what role he played in her death. In fact, he had always had a crush on her. Yet, as he gets deeper and deeper into Hannah’s story, he realizes the many different times he and others might have been able to save Hannah just by being kind or being her friend.

Many times I found Hannah to be too angsty, too ready to find fault in others, and not very likeable. The reader never gets a chance to really know Hannah beyond her reasons for committing suicide. This was hard for me but then my professor pointed out that author Jay Asher might have kept her such a blank to show that she could be anyone you know. We don’t get to see anything beyond the way people treat Hannah and how she reacts. That could be how this book shows teens that anyone could be Hannah, anyone could need a kind word or smile. It’s a book that teens can learn empathy from. It just might open their eyes to how others might be screaming silently for help. And it just might give them the strength to offer a helping hand.

Additional Information:

To hear Hannah’s tapes click here.

To submit your own review of Thirteen Reasons Why and visit the book’s website click here.

To find help for someone you feel might need it click here.

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Author: Melody

I'm a full time children's librarian and a part time student. When I'm not at work or school, I like to read, backpack in the Rockies, and hang out with my husband and friends.

One thought on “The Problem Novel

  1. Great review. You hit the nail on the head as to why I struggled to get into the book (Hannah being at times quite unlikeable). I have to confess I have tried and failed at least three times to read this book, but reading your review I’m convinced to give it another try.

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