Please note, the following content may contain emotional triggers.
Early last year, I read Jay Asher’s popular YA novel, “13 Reasons Why” – you can read my full review here – around the same time it debuted as a TV series on Netflix. I heard about how controversial it was, how difficult it was to watch.
But I read the book in just two days.
“13 Reasons Why” – the book and the series – is a story told from the perspective of Hannah, a high school student who killed herself. Before she ended her life, she recorded the 13 reasons why on a series of cassette tapes, and left instructions on how it should be delivered.
She intended for everyone who hurt her understand what they did and how it negatively affected her life. In the book and the series, we are “hearing” the tapes through Clay Jensen – a character that knew, liked, and worked with Hannah.
This is pretty much where the similarities between the book and the series stop. I completely understand that they had to adapt the story for TV, but it was really so, so different from the book.
No spoilers – but the book really doesn’t go into the details of Hannah’s parents or family life. It also doesn’t really get into the details of Hannah’s “friends” nor does it discuss their reaction to the tapes.
In the book, we simply get Clay’s reaction, and not much else (which makes for a perfectly complete story).
I’ll admit, the series was difficult to watch at times. The story is heartbreaking, and sadly, I know it’s not far from how many teenagers currently experience high school. I cannot explain how many times I’ve thanked the universe for not inventing smartphones and/or social media before I graduated from high school. I would have been miserable.
The one thing I disagreed with in the series is that… they don’t depict Hannah as having mental problems. I cannot sit here and say that everyone who commits suicide was mentally ill, but I also don’t think it’s something we can just say, well if we would have been nicer to that person, they would still be here today.
Again, maybe I’m wrong on this, but I would hate to think that people would watch the series and think a single date or encounter might end someone’s life.
The end of the series definitely left more to be desired, which doesn’t make sense for the book. But, there’s already a season two and I’ve got a few ideas what it will entail. However, I do think you have to be in the right head space to watch it. I binged it, and definitely needed to get outside and do something positive before going to bed.
Whether you watch the series or not, I know that no matter what – high school is tough. Teenagers go through a lot, especially today, and it’s not a bad lesson to learn that we should all treat each other a little better.