I first noticed this on a facebook post about the current Netflix series. Reading about it, I thought it sounded like a very interesting topic, until I found out it was based on a book of the same title first published 10 years ago. What followed after buying it and beginning it was one of the most intense, original, and well-written novels I've read since The Hunger Games or The Stand. How has this been such a well-kept secret for the past decade? Every attempt will be made at no spoilers in this review, because the reader deserves to discover anew this haunting story.
Simply, Hannah Baker, a very troubled student at a local high school, commits suicide, but it does not end there. She has arranged for a series of recorded messages by her, 13 in all, to be delivered and heard by 13 people who she feels have influenced her decision to end her life. I cannot really reveal any further plot points without spoiling things, but I can tell you the way the author reveals her audio through the mind of the main protagonist, Clay, as he listens to each tape makes for some incredibly compelling reading. Also, the way the story pertains to him and how everything seems to come full circle through his feelings to me is just sheer genius writing.
Anyone who attended high school and even halfway paid attention to the dynamics of the relationships, friendships, and various issues that we all dealt with on a daily basis will identify with this book. I've heard some of the criticisms....that this book "glorifies" or "mainstreams" suicide, but nothing could be further from the truth. To me, what this book accomplishes is it enlightens us all to the tragedy and epidemic of teen suicide, and how preventable it is with the right support systems in place. If you are an adult with kids, read this book and use it to discuss with your children what is out there and how this can be prevented. If you are a teenager, especially one with typical teenager issues or something much more menacing, read this book and know that there are people out there to talk to. Thank you.