About two weeks ago I came home from work to find my Facebook wall completely flooded with links and articles about the death of a Vancouver teen named Amanda Todd. Bullied at school and on the Internet, Amanda made the tragic choice to take her own life. My blood literally ran cold and goosebumps covered my arms as the realization struck me that the circumstances surrounding Amanda’s death were not unlike those of the character in the book that I had literally finished reading that very afternoon. That book was Thirteen Reasons Why.
There are so many wonderful and amazing things that I could say about Jay Asher’s bestselling novel, Thirteen Reasons Why: his creative decision to have one of the main characters speak entirely through cassette tapes, the flow of his writing, the powerful message behind Hannah’s story… All of these things were fantastic aspects of the book, and have been pointed out by countless reviewers before me. After finishing the book and reading about Amanda’s story, the one thing that struck me the most, however, was the novel’s continued relevance to every day life despite having been published almost five years ago.
The parallel between the character of Hannah and the real life Amanda Todd just goes to show you how much bullying is still a major issue in the lives of teens. While many teens may not realize it, a few harsh words or a single thoughtless action may have a much bigger impact on those around them then they imagine. As Hannah tells her listeners, “You don’t know what goes on in anyone’s life but your own. And when you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re not messing with just that part. Unfortunately, you can’t be that precise and selective. When you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re messing with their entire life. Everything. . . affects everything.” In other words, teens and adults alike need to consider the impact of their actions or inaction on others.
I guess what I’m trying to say in a very roundabout way is that Thirteen Reasons Why is an amazing book that continues to portray the problems and struggles faced by teens throughout North America. This is definitely a must read for high school students in order for them to better understand the issues of bullying, depression, and suicide. Who knows….maybe reading Thirteen Reasons Why will cause someone, somewhere to reach out to another person in need and prevent another tragedy like the death of Amanda Todd.