**Also published on Goodreads**
I thought this book was beautifully written, an excellent format, with an ultimately devastating tale. It’s not something I’m going to read again anytime soon. It’s one of those that I’m going to sit on my shelf and think about every time I skim the spines of the books I love and remember why it’s still there. But I won’t bring myself to read it, because I’ll remember the details. The why’s of loving it. And I’ll remember the subtle ache in my heart that still sighs a little for Hannah Baker.
So here’s the thing: I related to Hannah Baker. I felt like most people can. She goes through things that most of us, in some form or another, have also experienced. Maybe not in the same way, but in our own ways, and those things have touched us places that we can never show anyone else.
Is she likable? Maybe not. She gave up and quit fighting. She blamed others for the things that went wrong in her life (whether it was their fault or not, which, a lot of it really was), and she pushed away those that might have opened up.
But it’s not about whether or not she’s likable. It’s about whether or not you look at Hannah and see a piece of yourself there. The piece of you that lost.
But Clay? I didn’t like Clay. I thought Clay was a subconscious jerk wrapped in Nice Guy packaging – and that made me mad.
It’s not really his fault, I suppose. People are conditioned to look at things in a certain slant of light, so to speak, and I understand why he saw them that way. But it doesn’t make it right, and that’s kind of the point of a book like this. My problem with Clay was that he was a “victim blamer.” It was subtle, and maybe people will say I am simply over sensitive. Maybe they’ll say, you’re looking too closely. But in a book like this, how can you not?
Clay is our hero–sort of–and at the end of the book, I felt like he’d made a real change. He’s found bravery and compassion, which is great. But he never figured out one important thing: you don’t blame the victim.
It was the whole “it’s time to leave Tyler alone” thing. I mean, hello? He’s a Peeping Tom! Never mind that that’s illegal, but let’s just take a moment to understand that that is a serious invasion of someone’s privacy and that he’s essentially just said let this go, because it’s not THAT big of a deal. Also, someone who does that has a chance of escalating to more serious crimes which may eventually lead to rape.
Then there’s the whole thing about Clay suggesting that Hannah didn’t trust people and she gave up, which, okay, is true, but she also DID try and she DID trust people and it screwed her up enough times that it’s understandable to assume that she was no longer in the market to trust people.
I don’t know, there are more examples and maybe I will go through and find them again, but sometimes Clay was just problematic for me. On the one hand, I liked him. He seemed nice. On the other hand, he seemed just like everyone else. Worse, he seemed like he was too busy explaining away other people’s actions to bother understanding what Hannah was really talking about.
And that wasn’t all the time. He had bright moments where I truly liked him, but I couldn’t help but think that the real reason he was on that tape is that he spent the entire novel in Hannah’s peripheral vision, aware of her, watching her, thinking about her (judging her), and maybe even noticed the signs that things were going wrong for her – and he did nothing. Because sometimes doing nothing at all is the worst kind of person, and that was Clay for me.
At the end, I felt like he realized that, too, and made a decision to change, but… the other stuff, I’m not so sure. Anyone who even for a split second defended Tyler makes me think that maybe he’s not so great a guy.
Anyway, overall, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking to show a little compassion. For those of you who don’t think suicide is serious or think that your dipsh*t comments don’t affect others and are just unwilling to think that it could ever be your fault, maybe you should just leave this one alone.
I’m tired of hearing from you.
Title: Thirteen Reasons Why
Author: Jay Asher
Approximate Length: 288 pages
I had a softcover edition, well worn.