by Beth Saadati
While perusing at Barnes & Noble, I noticed the girl on the swing. I picked up the prominently displayed novel, scanned the back cover, read the included author’s interview. Suddenly a single thought overshadowed everything else: I never want to read this book.
Not because it wasn’t relevant. Not because I wanted to bury my head in the sand and pretend you and I live in happily-ever-after land.
Rather, because Thirteen Reasons Why was, to its author, fiction. Truth be told, I wanted to fling the novel across the room, because I hated knowing this FICTION was my—and way too many others’—nightmare…my nonfiction reality.
Nevertheless, curiosity got the best of me—it was an international bestseller, plus I wanted to see what the YA literature had to say—and, well, I always want to muster up enough courage to face the hard in life. (That run towards the roar thing.)
So, a few days later I pulled the book off the library shelf, snuggled into a cushioned chair and, without moving save an occasional blink, read the story from beginning to end.
That was thirteen (pardon the irony) months ago. I’ve been processing it ever since.
- Is Thirteen Reasons Why a page-turner? Obviously.
- Do I agree with the theme—we can go to school with classmates for years and never really know them—that Jay Asher shared when I briefly met him and heard him speak? Sadly, yes.
- Am I glad the novel encourages a conversation about tough topics that have, for far too long, been silenced and stigmatized? Definitely.
- But…Was I emotionally wrecked and, admittedly, physically sick after completing the book? You can’t imagine the extent.
Why? Despite some positive aspects of Asher’s work, the message it, perhaps unintentionally, communicates about suicide—whether through the Netflix hit series or the novel—is severely wrong in three major ways.