The book touches upon the impact of suicides on train drivers. Hence, the mention in this poem.
A sad topic but an important one to address, particularly during these difficult times.
Remember, if you are ever feeling lost, low or depressed there is always a better day waiting for you in the future. Today might be hard but keep your family and friends close to your heart and always talk through your problems with a friend, family member or counsellor. A problem shared is always halved.
You can’t stop the future.
You can’t rewind the past.
The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.
Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.
Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.
This is a difficult book to review not because of the writing brilliance or lack of, more because suicide is such an emotive and difficult subject to deal with sensitively. It’s one of those books that definitely fits in the unputdownable category. Curiosity carries you forward, and keeps you turning the pages… but, for me the tapes were a device, a method that the author used to convey the suicide’s victims feelings beyond the grave to the people who had hurt her. Wait a minute, I have an issue with this. Suicides don’t do this. This involves planning, and people considering ending their lives are unlikely to write a note, family and friends are left wondering – Why? But, I reckon Jay Asher meant well. I believe her intention was to explain that even the smallest hurt can attach to a larger hurt to grow into a huge hurt ball of pain. I get that, and it sounds plausible, but the upshot of this is the main protagonist starts of sounding whiny, and distances the reader somewhat. I didn’t find the main protagonist Hannah a likeable character, but perhaps that’s the point? The act of suicide means that you don’t dwell on who you might hurt by your actions – you are too immersed in your own pain – hence the significance of the rape scene. I’m not going into details in this review, no spoilers, read this yourself and make up your own mind.
Ultimately, suicide is the most terribly sad act of self destruction committed by a person who has mental health issues, or is suffering with unbearable pain. Mental health, bullying and depression are major reasons why people commit suicide and these issues should be discussed openly and with a caring attitude, particularly as they are a rising problem in our young people.
Thirteen Reasons Why isn’t a perfect book, but it does provokes discussion. It makes you consider what damage people do to each other and acknowledges that we don’t really know what is going on in other people’s lives.
Of course this debut has been an enormous success with a TV series on Netflix. Both of my daughters have watched the series.)
Rating: A very difficult one to rate, I spent a lot of time deliberating about this one. I’d say it is sitting on a 4 star read.
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My opinions are my own and any reviews on this site have not been swayed or altered in any way by monetary compensation, or by the offer of a free book in exchange for a review.
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I’m glad I came across this prompt via Sacha Black for her Flash Writespiration – Burnt Edges, I was looking for a writing stimulus for a competition I’m thinking of entering and burnt edges was it. I read a very sad blog post on Cybele’s blog – In Memory of Her Beloved Brother a very personal and moving tribute which got me reflecting on the preciousness of life, and this developed into a theme for my piece of flash fiction: Suicide. I have heard some shocking stories via family members and in the wider community that really got me thinking.. about the terrible suffering of family and friends of suicide victims.
Sometimes there’s a happy outcome when suicides are prevented but sadly this is not always the case. Sometimes dreadful injuries are sustained by the person attempting suicide which have a long term effect on the person’s future quality of life and/or underlying depression can still remain unchecked waiting to rear its head once again.
If only we could prevent more suicides from happening. Young people are so vulnerable. If only that were possible.
While I’m on this terribly sad topic I thought I’d mention that I read Me Before You by Jojo Moyes fairly recently.
Here’s the synopsis:
Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.
What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.
Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.
What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.
Lines can become blurred. Assisted suicide is such an emotive topic – people tend to have very differing, and deeply felt viewpoints both for and against. So my piece of creative writing flash fiction is exploring some of these thoughts in a very concise way – only 200 words, to consider what a person would or wouldn’t do to ease a loved one’s daily pain and suffering, when they are suffering from an incurable disease that has stripped them of all dignity, or perhaps have had a life changing horrendous accident, that has left them with constant pain and no quality of life. What cost would that be to the individual who assists their loved one to die? Guilt would always play a part in that decision.. and guilt can be a bit like a jailer..
Here’s my piece of flash, which I have entitled Suicide Burns. The far reaching effects of suicide are like a fire engulfing all in sadness who come near.
We all have burnt edges in our lives but mine exist as a form of evidence, a folded piece of paper scarred by a torched flame of memories. The suicide note had intentional burnt edges around the colourless paper creating a waving motion, a final goodbye. She’d wanted me to remember those precious smoke filled memories spent together, before her debilitating cruel illness burnt joy to dust. The note cast a warming glow each time I opened it. I smelt the aroma of logs, her sweet perfume rekindling long lost memories of our passionate love making, the embers of the open fire caressing our naked, youthful bodies.
After her suicide, I placed the folded note next to my heart. For days it remained untouched until I unfolded it’s sad, weary edges. How I longed to hear her thoughts, to say one last farewell, but her silent note told of the pills that I’d stockpiled. The note was no longer in my breast pocket. It was evidence of my confession: loving her too much. Her ghost danced alone, a pain free sparkle of brilliant illuminating light. The prison door claimed my guilt, a small price to pay, my sweet dearest love.
Until the next time.. please do feel free to comment…
Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx
My fun (totally not serious but nevertheless 90% true,) author bio on Wattpad – Link below.
Marjorie Mallon was born in Lion City: Singapore. She grew up in a mountainous court in Hong Kong. Her crazy parents dragged her spotty soul away from her exotic childhood and her much loved dog Topsy to the frozen wastelands of Scotland. There she mastered Scottish country dancing, haggis bashing, bagpipe playing and a whole new Och Aye lingo.
As a teenager she travelled to many far flung destinations to visit her abacus wielding wayfarer dad. On one such occasion a barracuda swam by. It stopped to view her bikini clad body, longing to take a big bite. With dogs' fangs replacing barracudas' teeth, she returned to her mother's birthplace: Kuching, Cat City. There, Blackie, a black-hearted dog sniffed her frightened butt, whimpered and ran away! Shortly after this extraordinary event an angry female Orang-Utan chased her unfit ass out of the Malaysian jungle believing that she was a threat to her babies! She still monkeys about, would love to own a cat, or a replacement Topsy but refuses to entertain murderous dogs, or over-protective monkeys.
It's rumoured that she lives in the Venice of Cambridge, with her six foot hunk of a Rock God husband, and her two enchanted daughters.
After such an upbringing her author's mind has taken total leave of its senses. When she's not writing, she eats exotic delicacies while belly dancing, or surfs to the far reaches of the moon. To chill out she practises Tai Chi and Yoga on the crest of a wave. If the mood takes her she goes snorkelling with mermaids, or signs up for idyllic holidays with the Chinese Unicorn, whose magnificent voice sings like a thousand wind chimes.
She is a child of the light and the dark. Her motto is simply this: Do what you love, stay true to your heart's desires, remain young at heart, and inspire others to do so, even if it appears that the odds are stacked like black hearted shadows against you...
Ambitious New York City teenager Craig Gilner is determined to succeed at life – which means getting into the right high school to get into the right job. But once Craig aces his way into Manhattan’s Executive Pre-Professional High School, the pressure becomes unbearable. He stops eating and sleeping until, one night, he nearly kills himself.
Craig’s suicidal episode gets him checked into a mental hospital, where his new neighbors include a transsexual sex addict, a girl who has scarred her own face with scissors, and the self-elected President Armelio. There, Craig is finally able to confront the sources of his anxiety.
Ned Vizzini, who himself spent timein a psychiatric hospital, has created a remarkably moving tale about the sometimes unexpected road to happiness.
Vizzini grew up primarily in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn in New York City. He attended Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan, graduating in 1999. While still a teenager, he began to write articles for the New York Press, an alternative newspaper.
After he wrote an essay that got published by the New York Times Magazine, several of his essays about his young adult life ended up being combined into his first book, Teen Angst? Naaah…. Vizzini attended Hunter College, also located in Manhattan. Ned Vizzini lived in New York City. Vizzini’s characters and situations are said be based upon his time spent at Stuyvesant.
Sadly Ned Vizzini Died December 19, 2013.
I wasn’t sure about beginning It’s Kind Of A Funny Story particularly in light of Ned Vizzini’s suicide aged 32. It seems to me that comics, writers, poets, and creative individuals have a dark side to them which is often masked by a humorous persona. Obviously the unexpected suicide of Robin Williams, on 11th August, instantly comes to mind, the funny relatable guy, that had us all in stitches. In light of this I wondered how I would respond to reading Ned Vizzini’s novel about a young, teenage boy on the brink of suicide. The title suggested that it would be a light-hearted read. Well only a person who had experienced depression first hand could have written a book that tackled the subject so well, managing to make it a true reflection on the awful tragedy of depression and mental illness, and the stigma that comes hand in hand. There were times when the sheer humanity of life made me laugh, particularly when Craig makes the decision to check himself into hospital and found himself admitted to an adult mental health ward. Ned Vizzini achieves this by making his characters so believable, and engaging. To begin with Craig is freaked out but it doesn’t take long for all his “Cycling,” his relentless thoughts, and his “Tentacles,” his pressures to fall away. The hospital routine is oddly therapeutic. He begins to relax, eat, make friends, starts to understands girls, and grows up. There is hope, and hope is a powerful word. Sadly, even though there is this glimmer of hope there is also a sense of Craig’s vulnerability, he could slip back , the depression is and always will be a part of him. Though, if he holds on to his “Anchors,” those things that keeps him steady, he might just be ok.
I loved the idea of Craig’s “Cycling,” “Tentacles” and his “Anchor,” you will have to read the book to find out what his Anchor is. I don’t want to spoil it for you. But his “Anchor” is just so Craig. We all need an “Anchor!”
So, a wonderful book. The characters are great. The dialogue is spot on. Can’t really find anything to say but positive, positive. Everyone should read it. Every parent, so they don’t push their child into doing something that isn’t right for them. Help, encourage and guide them but don’t pressurise them into doing something that is alien to them. If only every person suffering from anxiety, depression, and mental illness could find their “Anchors” the things that keep them happy, and hold on to them for dear life maybe then they will never have to slip away as Ned Vizzini did. That is the sad truth. So much talent wasted. This is my tribute to Ned Vizzini, sadly, I only discovered his writing now.
A Whopping, Deserved 5 Stars.
Highly Recommended to Young Adult, Contemporary, Mental Health, Humour, Psychology, and Coming of Age Readers.
If you are experiencing mental health issues I’d thoroughly recommend this site: