Sunday, June 18, 2017

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

I bought the book Th1rteen R3asons Why by Jay Asher because the author is speaking today near my home, and I feel some kind of need to support local library activity. If the hype on the cover about this book's popularity among young adults is true, please protect your children from this crap.

My only caveat is I'm nearing 50 years old, so I'm probably the last person you want telling you what's good in Young Adult fiction, but here are my $0.02.

This review contains spoilers.

#1, how can someone in 2007 write a Young Adult fiction where there are no non-Anglo character names and no indications of racial or religious or ethnic identity? Is this place Mayberry with mean boys and girls?

#2, 80% of Clay's dialogue is redundant. "I miss Hannah." "I should have told Hannah I liked her." "Listening to these tapes is disturbing." I'm not sure if he expresses another thought.

#3, while many talk about this book's value for discussion of suicide prevention, what this book really should be about is the lack of sex education. Nobody seems to care about sexual harassment, consent and assault.

#4, Hannah is extremely passive about the assaults to her dignity. In particular, she does nothing about a peeping Tom and a sexual assault on her person at the local teen hangout. While I know that victims often don't have the ability in the moment to respond, her continued interaction with the same clique at her school seems a strained story plot. Is this town so small that these are the only people around? The school doesn't have a chess club or a band?

If I could summarize this book, I'd call it "280 pages of White People Problems." As you read it, remember that people Hannah and Clay's ages are migrating 2,000 miles to escape horrible conditions in Central America only to be detained by Mexican and US authorities. Migrants risk death in the Mediterranean to reach a place where they can be safe from conscription, bombs, political persecution and economic deprivation. Police and vigilantes murder black people with infrequent legal consequences.

If you are a parent of a non-white child, I'd make sure he or she doesn't read this book.