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I have seen the updates all over my Facebook feed. Of course I was curious. But I am one to read the book before watching the show or movie.
That said, I have been wanting to read 13 Reasons Why, by Jay Asher for quite some time. Actually even before the book was made into a Netflix show.
See I have also lost count how many times I had the book in my hands at Barnes and Noble, when I have taken my girls to buy more books for their ever growing library.
Yet, I patiently waited to get an e-book copy from the library for the last few months. The list was understandably very long.
Finally, I got my hands on that ebook copy late last month. I couldn’t put down my iPad and finished the book in less than 2 days.
To say I was left reeling after reading and subsequently viewing the Netflix show in a little under a week would be an understatement.
See having been a former teenage girl, who had her fair share of drama filled high school days. So on that level, I could relate.
Even as a former middle/high teacher, who witnessed teen angst on a whole new level, I most definitely could also relate.
And now more than ever being the mom to two young daughters, who will in the upcoming future live through their own drama laden teen years, I had to not just read the book but also watch the show.
However if you are unfamiliar with the overall story or just been living under a rock, then I will sum it up for you here.
The book and the Netflix show revolve around high school sophomore, Hannah Baker. She is truly unhappy after many and varied different encounters with her high school peers. Many of these encounters, while not earth shattering to some, put together were that and more to Hannah. In essence, Hannah was bullied and mistreated on more than one occasion.
Because of this, she ultimately decides to end her life. But before she does, she records 13 cassette tapes. She dedicates each of the tapes to a different person who she felt negatively impacted her life. She pretty much blames each of these people for her ultimate decision.
The tapes are being listened by each of the 13 people in sequential number order posthumously. In the book, as well as the show, Clay Jensen, who just happens to be the subject of tape 11, is the one listening to them and relaying the events to us.
The book, I felt, was done very tastefully and handled this tough subject matter quite well. The book, though, made me feel that Hannah’s story occurred more in a vacuum than the show did. Also, it just ended abruptly when the book concluded.
The Netflix Show also had to deal with visually living up to the book’s high standard and add layers to it still. One thing, I can say about the show, is that it sadly portrayed teens pretty accurately in my humble estimation.
The show, also added, more adult presence is the form of Hannah’s parents, Clay’s parents and more high school administrators, such as the principal, guidance counselor and teachers, too.
Even though these adults did exist in the book, the show broadened their roles that much more.
The Netflix show delved more into not only Hannah’s perspective, but also gave us more insight into why each of these people who effected Hannah did what that did. Plus, we got to see how it impacted each of these people afterwards. It also left us with a sense of what next? Possibly a second season, if the rumors are true.
Hannah was most definitely bullied by not one, but multiple classmates, who were both girls and boys. Both the book and the show drives this point home. The show, though, goes more in depth on this.
The book leaves a bit to the imagination as far as Hannah’s ultimate demise. But the show, not only explains exactly how Hannah ended her life, but it also gruesomely gives a bird’s eye view of Hannah’s actual suicide.
I must admit, when I first was viewing the actual culminating episode where Hannah kills herself I was more than upset and taken a back. But after having processed it, I think the filming of it while raw, was necessary to drive home how final suicide really is.
The thing is that this effected me on a personal level as a mom. Watching Hannah’s mom struggle with her daughter’s final decision was gut wrenching and heart breaking for me.
It left me with pause on how I myself would parent my own kid through this tumultuous time of their life.
But keep in mind, I am an adult viewing and processing this though. So, I am also trying to keep that in mind with my assessment. I mean all I have shared above so far is from that perspective.
See I have heard middle and high school kids are viewing this.
While I do think this is an important book and show for that age group to be aware of, I am not sure that it is something they should be reading or viewing without some form of parental guidance.
The book, I do think is age appropriate, for late middle schoolers and high schoolers. But I would say, parents should at the very least also be reading the book, as well as having an open dialogue with their kids.
I hate to sound like a helicopter parent. But with the show, my gut recommendation would be to watch it with your teen. I am not going to lie, but even at almost 40 years old, I was left with so many emotions by the end of this show especially.
See at my age though, I like to think I am able to see the bigger picture. But as a teen, I can tell you I most likely would have seriously grappled with the graphic depiction of Hannah’s story. I probably would have also put myself into her shoes more than once.
Trust me, if you don’t think teens act this way with each or also feel all sorts of emotions on a daily basis, then you are just deluding yourself. This is the reality more times than not.
So, to that end, teens are more than capable of viewing and relating no doubt. But how they process the information here is what troubles me.
Therefore, I think the book and the show, as well as such important vehicles to open the lines of communication with teens and their parents now more than ever.
I am not implying that all teens would react this way. But still I do believe some could and/or would.
Yet I hate to sound preachy, but would once again highly recommend if your teen is reading or viewing this show to be in loop and speak openly, honestly and freely with them on this.
Kudos though to Jay Asher for writing a very well thought out and relatable book. As well as Netflix, for adapting the book into an equally thought provoking show that could help teens and parents bridge the gap to help open the much needed lines of communication on bullying, teen suicide and so much more here.
Have you read or watched 13 Reasons Why?
Tell me your thoughts in the comments…
I agree that watching the show should be done with parental supervision. I didn’t like the book because I thought it glorified suicide and showed it as a way out above help from adults – the adults in the book did nothing for Hannah, which made me so angry at them! I think I’m going to watch the show, but I definitely don’t think kids should be watching it without supervision.
Dara, I felt the adult presence in the book was most definitely lacking. I almost felt like they were pretty much non-existent. The show, in my opinion, handles the parents and adults interaction better. That said, I do think if you read the book, you should watch the show if you can for that reasons and more.
Seana Turner says
I was just hearing about this on the news this morning as I was exercising. I guess there is some concern that suicide might be seen as an attractive solution to life’s problems, which would be tragic. The recommendation was that you watch with your child, or at least watch when you can so that you can talk with your child about what he/she is seeing. I always feel it is better to be in the know about what teens are exposed to, and to engage in dialogue about it.
Seana, this show has definitely become a topic of conversation in sorts. To that end, I do hope it can bring about more good than bad with opening those lines of communication for parents and their kids, too.
Meredith Spidel says
Read the book and the show is on my list–the impact of this is crazy!
I remember reading your review of the book and was one of the reasons why I decided I needed to read even more so. That said, was also glad I got to view the show, as it added a new layer of sorts after indeed reading the book.
Allie G smith says
This post is timely. We had a big bruhaha in my house last night. My daughter wants to watch it, I said I think we need to watch together, but not until I research it more (because I was aware of the conflict). She went ahead without out me, and well, you can imagine my reaction. She got through two episodes, and decided she was too young for it (she’s 12). She’s still in trouble, but I appreciate the fact she came clean (she had to, her older brother caught her). Anyway, no more Netflix for Audrey. Our district is very concerned. Two kids at our high school committed suicide this year.
Allie, my girls are still too young, but if they were closer to Audrey’s age I really could totally picture a similar scenario here with this. And I agree with you on wanting to watch with your girl. As I said, I do think that this show brings something good to the table in helping to bring such an important issue to light. In that end, viewing together parent(s) with child(ren) really could help to make a difference. Also very sorry to hear that suicide has been an issue in your own high school, as well.
My good friend is a history teacher and she watched 13 Reasons Why, she loved it, and hated it at the same time. I think I’m for sure skipping the movie, but I might read the book.
Mary, I would definitely recommend the book as it was one of my favorites so far this past year in all honesty.
AnnMarie John says
I started watching the movie and couldn’t get into it, but that could be because Madison kept interrupting me. I plan on rewatching them again when she’s in school and I have a bit more time to myself. I usually like reading the book before going into the movie, but for this I think I might skip the book, thanks to you telling us that the movie goes more in-depth, and stick with the movie with this one.
No problem and I definitely recommend watching when Madison is indeed in school for this one.
I haven’t read it or watched it, but I’m all for reading before watching.
My friend is a psychologist, and really sees the dangers, but I suppose I’d have to watch it first! I don’t have teens but if I did, I’d watch it before them.
Agreed totally on watching before and do hope you can read and watch this one, too.
Aunt Gloria says
I’m afraid I am one of the people living under a rock! I am not familiar with this book and movie. But it sounds like an important topic to bring to the attention of teens and parents. I agree that parents should be watching and/or reading the book along with their teen. I do remember the teen years having periods when self love is missing and I can see how bullying can lead a young person to harm themselves, especially if they are sensitive and/or depressed.
Thanks Aunt Gloria for weighing in and do very much appreciate it. I would highly recommend the book to you if you do get a chance to read if nothing else. Have a wonderful weekend now xoxo 🙂
I’ve been curious about the show. I didn’t realize it was so controversial, but learning more about it I can certainly understand why. Like you said, it sounds like it would be a good show for teens to watch with a parent or adult.
Thanks Bev and I know I didn’t realize how controversial myself until after I actually read the book in all honesty.
I’ve heard the show is pretty brutal. My son has no interest in watching, and my daughter watched a few episodes and then stopped. She didn’t want to watch anymore, and we did talk about it a bit. There are some kids in elementary school that are watching, which seems much too young to me.
Dana, my girls are in elementary school and I wouldn’t watch this when they were around or awake at all. So, I am with you on this 110%!
To be honest, I’m not going to watch. The premise is a bit much for me. However, I did read big little lies and was SO happy with the way that series turned out.
I definitely can agree about Big Little Lies, too!!
My Inner Chick says
——All of the kids are watching this
regardless of the controversy.
I thought it was well done, loved it, thought it was the real deal, & wrote
to our school superintendent afterwards and said it should be
shown in high school w/ guidelines and lots of discussion.
THIS is WHAT IS HAPPENING in our school districts.
I know…I work in one.
BTW…. I LOVED LOVED LOVED Big Little Lies.
My prediction: Nicole Kidman will win a Golden Globe. xx From MN
Aw, thanks MN for your input here and couldn’t agree more with schools to high schoolers as I also worked with them in the past to see this being an accurate portrayal of this age group. I also agree about Nicole Kidman, too!!
I couldn’t make it through the whole series. It broke my heart. So, maybe no book for me? The teen years are ten times worse as parent to a teen. I assure you, not because my teens are anything, but fabulous. It is just so hard to watch them experience it sometimes. It’s brutal. It’s rough and there is soooo much junk!
Aw, man Jen I know the reality of the teen years, but still honestly not ready for them with my own girls by any means.