What are we talking about today?

Some days have themes. I don't necessarily post something in each of these topic areas every week.

Sunday: Church-related or spiritual things.
Monday: Running.
Tuesday: Books.
Friday: Green living.

09 February 2016

T is for Thirteen

Time to dig in and finally finish my A to Z Challenge posts from... 2014, I think. I was swimming along just fine with the challenge that April, got all the way up to Q, and then didn't get my R post written. Or S. Or any of the others, because it was the end of my grad school semester and I just said "forget it."

I have no idea if I'll do A to Z this year. I didn't in 2015, but this year I have no grad school to get in the way, so that's something. Perhaps it's time for a theatre-themed A to Z.

Anyway! 2014 was all about my favourite books, so my favourite T book is...

Image source: Goodreads.
Thirteen Reasons Why, Jay Asher

Why this book? Because of all the emphasis it places on the consequences of one's actions. Because it puts Hannah's tormentors into the light of day and forces them to face their mistakes. One little thing after another piled up on Hannah, until one day it was more than she could take, but before she left she articulated what was going on inside her.

Why is this book problematic? Many Goodreads reviewers point out that it glamorizes suicide--because Hannah left behind her reasons for taking her own life, she immortalizes herself. The book doesn't deal with the grieving process. It doesn't show how Clay moves on. We don't get a glimpse of 10 or 20 years later and whether any of her classmates have more than occasional flashes of regret for the girl they once tormented. We get the raw emotion, but--that fades. People heal. And over time, Hannah will remain dead even while the others go on living, but we don't see that in this book.

Part of me thinks this is a book that should be on school reading lists. However, as someone who was scarred by a school reading list, another part of me wants to put up warning signs. If the teacher and students aren't ready and able to have the discussion about the problems in this book, about what happens after the last page is turned, then it doesn't need to be required reading. I recommend this one to young friends, but more accurately I recommend it to their parents, so they can all talk about it together. This is a book that merits as much discussion about what's not in it as it does about what's in it.

And if the reader can't do that, then that's a pretty good reason to leave it on the shelf.

What's your favourite "T" book?

2 comments:

Sharlan Proper said...

I thought I was the only one scarred by a school reading list. Thanks for the confession. Maybe I can feel better about myself. One of the scarring books was "T"he Pig Man. Long before the national conversation on bullying, this book relates the story of some kids who bullied the eccentric neighbor to death, The end. That's how the book ended. I didn't know what to do with the emotions. There were some other "T" books on death that year, "T"hat was Then, This is Now. Lucky tarro card fueled arrogance and drugs transported that death.
My favorite "t" book, I suppose, is still, "T"he Night Before Christmas. The rhythm and the duration are at the top of my list. Lots o' good memories to help cul the yucky ones no matter what time of year the yucky ones happen. Thanks for giving me something short and encouraging to read on most days.

Su Wilcox said...

Mine was The Outsiders. I could not have been less prepared for that book. My teachers could not have been less prepared for the emotions that it incited. (Apparently not every kid internalizes every book like I did.) I think this book would have done the same to teen me, which is why I would hope that anyone teaching it has a good tool set for coping with the questions it raises. And it helps if the students reading it have a certain level of maturity, too--I can think of some of my high school classmates who often made good points in class discussion who could easily have handled this book, and probably made it easier for the rest of us, too.

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