Thirteen Reasons Why Book Review: Bop or Flop?

Sarah Bensaid, Staff Writer

We have all heard of the well known Netflix Original Thirteen Reasons Why.  Based on the novel written by Jay Asher, the book surrounds the story of Hannah Baker’s suicide and what she left behind. 

Through a trail of recordings passed on after the tragedy, Hannah was able to achieve closure and confront those who led her to taking her own life. The book touches on real and sad situations that many high school students go through. It is because of the rawness of the story’s plot line that so many were able to resonate with the characters.

Although there is no question that Thirteen Reasons Why brought a sense of validation and connection to so many people, another question arises: did the book’s message cause more harm than good?

To such an easily influenced young audience, the ‘success’ of Hannah’s situation could be learned as glorification rather than a means of sympathy or documentation. Critics argue that in the novel, Hannah’s death was the implied solution to her problems. Although it is acknowledged that Hannah’s decision was a bad one, it is easy to see why people are against the implementation of the lesson.

But what these critics do not realize is that Thirteen Reasons Why was not meant to set an example. It was meant to highlight the stigma of mental health in society and remind people in a similar situation as Hannah Baker that they are not alone. By sugar coating and avoiding taboos, Thirteen Reasons Why would not have reached the impact that it has today. Dismissing problems is not a good way to solve them.

In my opinion, Thirteen Reasons Why and its realism make a good read on different perspectives and is a great way to acknowledge problems often swept under the rug. Bad things happen, and the first step to solving a problem is recognizing it.