How I Got Sucked Into This Book:
I was not going to jump on this book/movie train because I don't always like reading what everyone else is. When I had a friend tell me that her daughter and friends wanted to read and watch it and then my sister was watching it to see if it was appropriate for my niece, I thought maybe I need to jump in here. No, I don't have kids but I know that I have more time to read and watch than a lot of people. I actually listened to the audio book. I feel like audio books are hit and miss. Sometimes the voices ruin a book for me and I don't like it but I felt like I could listen to this book while working. I can honestly say that this was one of the best I have listened to, as far as the readers go. Anyways, I feel like I should put my opinion out there for anyone that was wondering about this book/movie. I am going to review each separately but there might be some overlap.
****THERE WILL BE SPOILERS****
Sunny's Review of the Book:
As I said above, I listened to the audio book and it was really good. The book starts out with Clay getting a package of tapes and he starts listening to them at home. Once he realizes what they are, he stops listening and goes to find Tony. He knows that Tony has a Walkman and he takes it. He listens to all the tapes back to back and follows the map that was slipped in his locker a few weeks before. I loved that the book went back and forth from Clay to Hannah. You were listening to her voice but you were also getting Clay's thoughts and feelings as he listened. I think that the author did a good job of showing Clay's feelings as he goes along. Hannah was a little harder for me to understand but I have not been a teenager in forever so once I got in her mindset, I could understand her feelings. Basically, from the time Hannah moved to this town and started high school, she has felt objectified and was part of the rumor mill. While she did what all high school kids have done she was new in the school so she felt like she was always considered a slut.
Clay "met" Hannah at a party right before school started and had a crush on her for 3 years. He never did anything about it because he was shy at first. Later on, he heard the rumors and wondered about them because they did not line up with the Hannah he knows from work and one on one conversations he finally has with her. Clay is really smart and running for valedictorian of his class so one of the hold ups for him, is her reputation. As he listens to the tapes and puts everything together, he realizes what a mistake he made and he is even more devastated than before.
At the end of the book, Clay passes the tapes along to the next person and then moves on with life. He does make the effort to use what he has learned about Hannah to reach out to other people. I liked the book and think that Jay Asher did an amazing job showing what can happen to high school kids. Remember when you were there and how the smallest things sent you spiraling out of control.
Sunny's Review of the Movie:
At first, I hated the movie. It was chaotic for me but I had just finished the book. I did not like Clay in the movie. I don't think that they really showed him as a smart kid that cared. He just seemed like a loner and a dork that was sometimes picked on. I was also annoyed with the fact that he was listening to the tapes so slowly. It moved very slowly for me. I understand why they did it like that but it was still very annoying. Clay was also more reactive in the show. He went after the other kids on the tape and I really did not like that. I get that a lot of people would react like that but I just did not like it.
I do like that we got to see how the tapes were affecting the other kids. There were also some changes to the kids lives that would make the show a little more relevant today versus when the book came out. Courtney had openly gay dads and several of the kids in the movie were homosexual. I either didn't pick up on that in the book or it was not brought up. I don't feel like either of these impacted the story line.
I ended up liking the movie but it is definitely more graphic.
Overall Thoughts and Feelings:
There were a lot of differences between the book and movie. The way Hannah actually committed suicide was changed and I think that this was to show that suicide is not easy or glamorous. You got to see more fallout in the movie than the book. I agree that when a person commits suicide, they feel so alone and so helpless that they don't think that anyone will miss them or that their decision will impact anyone else. I don't agree with the people who think this book or movie is bad because there are no alternatives for Hannah. There were alternatives for her but by the time she did decide to reach out, she felt too far gone. There was also a little bit of shaming done by the councilor. I don't think that he was trying to do that but it did come across that way and if you are a teenage girl already at the end of your rope,..it was basically the last straw.
I do think that this book/movie does send a good message. There are so many signs that are in the book that were missed by friends, family and school. It shows how some little things that we would never think about can hurt someone. Basically, all actions have consequences. There are so many things that might not bother one person but somebody who already feels beaten down or is depressed, it can become a huge issue. I do think that parents need to read and watch with their kids. I do not think this is appropriate for elementary or even junior high kids. There are a lot of deep issues that are discussed. Rape, drugs, alcohol, consensual sex. I think that parents should talk to about these issues but I don't know that a younger child is ready for the graphic nature that they would be watching or reading about. Again, I don't have kids so this all comes down to each indivdual family knowing what goes on in their own household.
Suicide Is Not A Joke or Entertainment:
Suicide is not a joke or entertainment and I do not think that the book or series portrays it as such. If you know of anyone that may be struggling with thoughts of suicide or you are yourself, please reach out to someone. People DO care and you are NOT ALONE.
Need to talk? Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) anytime if you are in the United States. It’s free and confidential.
Find more resources at 13reasonswhy.info.
Find more resources at 13reasonswhy.info.