Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

 13 Reasons Why
by Jay Asher

  • Fiction, Realistic Fiction, YA
  • 13+ for complex themes and mature content
  • Trigger Warning: suicide, sexual assault, rape, self-harm, bullying, adult content 
  • Published October 18th, 2007 by Razorbill
Summary
     "You can’t stop the future.
     You can’t rewind the past.
     The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.

     Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.

     Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever." - Goodreads
 Review

     My reasons for starting Thirteen Reasons Why were not the greatest. In fact, originally I wasn't planning to read the book, I barely knew it existed. I wanted to watch the show, everyone else was watching it and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. However, my parents intervened and prevented me from watching the show as it was "too graphic." So, being me, I decided that if I couldn't watch the show, I'd read the book, because it's all the same right? Wrong. Watching a show and reading a book are two very different experiences, no matter how alike the story lines are. When watching a show, you're distanced from the characters, able to distinguish your thoughts from their's. However, when reading a book written in the first person, we tend to put ourselves in the character's shoes, I know I found myself doing that. And let me tell you, with this book that's a scary place to be, and it's for the best to give yourself the occasional break when reading the book. This is the only time I'll ever say this, but please do not binge read this novel.

     Now, you're probably waiting for my review, that is what you came for after all. So, without further ado, let's get on with the review!

     Starting the book, I didn't expect to have an emotional reaction, when it comes to fiction I have the emotional range of a teaspoon. But I got sucked into the book, I felt like I could understand what they were going through and related with the characters. Also, Asher mentions a lot of topics in ways people don't typically think of them, and these topics deserve some thought. Although Hannah doesn't necessarily handle all of her issues in a mature way, she does handle them in a way most teenagers would. Overall, I loved the book not only for bringing attention to important topics in society, but also for properly demonstrating the thought process of a teenager, unlike most realistic fiction.

 Recommendation

     I strongly recommend that every teen or parent of a teen read this book at least
once before they become an adult. This experience could reveal the opportunity to talk about important subjects that society has labeled "taboo." However, when doing this, I suggest you keep a couple things in mind. Firstly, Hannah's final actions were anything but moral. Not only did she expect others to know what she was thinking, but she blamed them for causing more issues that she could've avoided herself. Secondly, her actions were very risky and the tapes were problematic in and of themselves. Not only did it blame others for her decision to kill herself, but she threatened their way of life if they didn't listen to tapes that had the potential to cause suicide, self-harm, or at the very least depression. While I believe that there are much more mature ways to go about Hannah's situation, I feel that her actions were a realistic portrayal of what the majority of teens would do in her situation. Although I'm not a psychologist or doctor, please keep in mind that if you've ever had suicidal thought or traumatic experiences, reading this book could cause flashbacks or a setback in progress made towards recovery. I encourage anyone that plans to read Thirteen Reasons Why to be careful and make sure to keep safe, don't feel bad if you have to stop reading.

About The Author


     "Jay Asher was born in Arcadia, California on September 30, 1975. He grew up in a family that encouraged all of his interests, from playing the guitar to his writing. He attended Cuesta College right after graduating from high school. It was here where he wrote his first two children’s books for a class called Children’s Literature Appreciation. At this point in his life, he had decided he wanted to become an elementary school teacher. He then transferred to California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo where he left his senior year in order to pursue his career as a serious writer. Throughout his life he worked in various establishments, including as a salesman in a shoe store and in libraries and bookstores. Many of his work experiences had an impact on some aspect of his writing." - Goodreads

Purchase The Book

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Wuthering Heights
by Emily Brontë

  • Classic, Fiction, Gothic, Romantic
  • 16+ for complex themes and vocabulary
  • Published September 5th, 1847 by Thomas Cautley Newby
Summary
     "Wuthering Heights is a wild, passionate story of the intense and almost demonic love between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, a foundling adopted by Catherine's father. After Mr Earnshaw's death, Heathcliff is bullied and humiliated by Catherine's brother Hindley and wrongly believing that his love for Catherine is not reciprocated, leaves Wuthering Heights, only to return years later as a wealthy and polished man. He proceeds to exact a terrible revenge for his former miseries. The action of the story is chaotic and unremittingly violent, but the accomplished handling of a complex structure, the evocative descriptions of the lonely moorland setting and the poetic grandeur of vision combine to make this unique novel a masterpiece of English literature." - Goodreads 
Review

     So, first of all, this is most likely not an accurate portrayal of the book as I was forced to read it and that is my #1 pet peeve, I hate being forced to read books. However, putting that piece of information aside let's proceed to all the reasons that I absolutely HATED this book. 

     First of all, the character's in this book are horrible, they are very well developed, maybe even TOO well developed. In a book, although I like evil things, the more twisted the better, I do prefer to have at least one good character. In Wuthering Heights there are none of these. If you can find one I applaud you, but it doesn't matter because you can't. You could argue that Edgar is a decent human being, or that Nelly is always faithful, but I know as well as you do that you would be lying to yourself.

     Second of all, is anybody's vocabulary really that big? My mother is an English bachelor, so I have a pretty wide vocabulary, much wider than the average Junior, let alone Freshman. Yet, as I was reading I kept my phone next to me the whole time, and I had as many as four words in one paragraph. So, if you have a really small vocabulary, or you hate being distracted while reading, I do not recommend this book. 

     Finally, the relationships. The whole book is about love triangles, yes there are multiple. And yet, they somehow end up being almost exactly the same. Now, if you have read this blog before, you most likely know that I have a hatred for romance, I think it is the biggest waste of paper ever created. So reading a book I already didn't want to read for a class AND it being full of romance, I was not a happy camper.

Recommendation


     Now, I am not one to discourage people from reading something they're interested in, and there are many people throughout the world that LOVE this book. However, if you are a teen looking for a interesting book, or a light read, I don't recommend this book, unless you have a PhD in English (which I doubt). Now, if you happen to like classics and are always looking for something to expand your vocabulary, GO FOR IT. Don't let anybody stop you. However, this just wasn't my cup of tea and I can't wait until I can go back to reading what I choose. Also, if you do happen to pick up the book and need help translating Joseph's WONDERFUL dialogue (can you sense the sarcasm?) I personally recommend this website, it's a miracle worker.

About the Author


     "Emily had an unusual character, extremely unsocial and reserved, with few friends outside her family. She preferred the company of animals to people and rarely traveled, forever yearning for the freedom of Haworth and the moors. She had a will of iron – a well known story about her is that she was bitten by a (possibly) rabid dog which resulted in her walking calmly into the kitchen and cauterizing the wound herself with a hot iron.

She had unconventional religious beliefs, rarely attending church services and, unlike the other children, never teaching in the Sunday School.

In appearance, she was lithesome and graceful, the tallest of the Brontë children (her coffin measured five feet seven inches – 1.7 meters) but ate sparingly and would starve herself when unhappy or unable to get her own way. As her literary works suggest, she was highly intelligent, teaching herself German while working in the kitchen (her favorite place outside of the moors) and playing the piano well enough to teach it in Brussels. Her stubbornness lasted to the end where she refused to see a doctor or rest while she was dying of tuberculosis." - Wuthering Heights Official Website (The above has been edited to fit American spellings)