The short of it: great book.
The long of if: It may seem like a story of teen suicide (and it is, in part), but it’s about so much more. It depicts the social trauma of high school – the power of rumor and reputation. It hits on so many topics: rumors, promiscuity, reputation, adolescents’ burgeoning romantic and sexual identities, cliques, accountability, objectification of women, the ethical struggle to do the right thing or turn a blind eye, missed opportunities and the snowball effect of all these things together.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the book’s format. Essentially, two stories – the story of Hannah Baker, a girl who kills herself (and her 13 reasons why) and Clay Jensen, a classmate and admirer of Hannah’s through whose lens we hear Hannah’s story. Hannah records her reasons on cassette tapes, and Clay listens and responds to them adding his perspective. It works. Both voices come through clearly.
I really liked this book. Although it was sad, I think it would be a great tool for opening up discussions with students about these issues. I stands on its own as a book that might provide the sense of camaraderie so often missing from middle/high school students lives. It also encourages readers to remember that there is so much more to a person that what we see on the surface.
Kari recommended this book as one of her favorite YA titles. I suspect (correct me if I’m wrong) that it may have instigated her seminar topic 🙂