I pulled an all-nighter reading this book and now have a terrible book hangover, because I absolutely could not put it down and go to sleep until I knew why Hannah committed suicide. 13 Reasons Why is about a high school girl named Hannah who committed suicide. Before doing the deed, she recorded her story on 13 cassette tapes. Each tape revealed a new piece to the puzzle, another side of her story. On each tape she talked about a different person, and how that one person who may have done something insignificant, like writing her name on a "hot or not" list, or spreading rumors about a hot date; impacted her to the point where she felt that she had no other option. Right before she did the deed, she sent her tapes to the first person on her list. After listening to her story, they gave the tapes to the second person, and so on. The tapes ended up with Clay. A quiet boy who hardly knew Hannah, and he couldn't figure out how he had anything to do with her decision. This book really spoke to me because I believe in a ripple effect. I believe that as humans, our lives are weaved together in ways that we sometimes can't even imagine. I believe that an act of kindness can change someone's life forever and that a snide comment, even in if was not meant in a rude way or was just a joke, can cause a person to be bitter for years. I would recommend this book to anyone who has dealt with depression, or is currently going through it. This book will really change the way you look at life and how your decisions impact those around you. If you enjoyed this book, I would highly recommend "The Five People You Meet in Heaven" by Mitch Albom.
With tears running down my face, I desperately gasped for air while cursing the heartless author John Green. Seriously. If this book did not bring tears to your eyes you are a heartless person.
This books starts out with the main character Hazel Grace Lancaster. She is 16 years old with stage 4 thyroid cancer. She had to use an oxygen tank because her lungs were slowly filling with fluid. Her mom sent her to a support group every week in the basement of a church. The room was often referred to as "The literal heart of Jesus". One day at her support group she met the mysterious yet charismatic Augustus Waters. They began to flirt, although she was a bit shy at first. All of the participants went around the room saying who they were and why they were there. Augustus claimed that he lost his leg after battling osteosarcoma. (However, he was not there for himself, he was there to support his friend Issac. Issac had eye cancer and was to become blind after his operation.) After the group session, Hazel began talking to Augustus while waiting for her mother. During the conversation Augustus pulled out a cigarette and put it in between his lips. Hazel could not believe that he was actually going to smoke right then and there. Augustus explained that it was a metaphor. He carried cigarettes with him, but never lit one. He would put the killing thing between his lips, but not give it the power to kill him. Hazel was fascinated by this boy, and instead of going home with her mother she went to his house to watch a movie. So they hit it off right away and started dating. If you haven't read the novel, I really can't say anymore without giving it away. Read it or listen to it on an audio book.
This book really opened my eyes to many things. I've always been a healthy person and it made me think about what must be like to be sick. I mean really sick, like Hazel. My grandfather, who passed away in February 2014, had cancer and spent the last year of his life living off of an oxygen tank. It was hard for him to walk more than a short distance and he was frequently out of breath. The way Hazel's affliction is described makes me think of how my grandfather must have felt in his last few months. I think John Green did an excellent job depicting how the disease impacts one's body.
I thought Augustus's idea of the cigarette was really abstract, but I liked it. I'm not saying I would suggest that an individual should walk around with an unlit cigarette in his or her mouth; but for the sake of the novel it made sense. It made him feel empowered, as if it was the one aspect of control he had over his own body, which was slowly deteriorating.
Furthermore, let's talk about Augustus's death. This is what brought me to tears. What made it hard for me is that he was so young when he died. I graduated from high school recently (class of 2014). At the graduating ceremony there were speeches made with the ideas of "living your life to it's fullest" and "creating adventures". The sad truth that we don't want to admit is that not everyone has the opportunity to live a full life. We would like to think that each of these 17 and 18 year old kids who just graduated are going to get a college degree, get a job, get married and have beautiful children. Young people die every day. They die from car wrecks, diseases, poor lifestyle choices, and an infinite number of other reasons. Hazel did not think that Augustus was going to die. She thought that she would die young and that Augustus would read her eulogy. This book opened my eyes to the fact that even though I am young, I could still die at any given moment. We don't know these things and even if we did, we probably wouldn't want to. This book taught me that I shouldn't wait until I'm old to live my life, I should be having adventures now and writing the stories to my life's book. It also made me realize that you don't have to be Gandhi or MLK to change the world. Augustus used his one wish to take Hazel to Amsterdam and he gave her the time of her life. In the way that all of our lives are weaved together, you never know how you are affecting others. If, in your lifetime, you made someone's day with an act of kindness, or made just one person laugh, your life had a purpose.
If you enjoyed this book, I would recommend reading "My Sister's Keeper" by Jodi Picoult.
I recently decided to read the book "Catcher in the Rye". It is a highly regarded book in our society, and many people consider it one of the greatest novels in western literature. I however, was not a fan.
For those who have not read the book, here is a short summary: The novel starts by introducing the main character, Holden Caulfield. Holden is in a hospital for people with tuberculosis, and he is retelling his story to the audience. He was in a private school for boys called Pencey, but was kicked out because he flunked all of his classes (except English). This had been the fourth school he was kicked out of. Not wanting to go home and face his parents, he stayed in New York for a few days. He decided that if he could hold off until Christmas break, which was only a few days away, he would be fine.
(For a more detailed plot summary, there is a handy video on Sparknotes.)
Why didn't I like this book? For one, it was absolutely not what I expected. Because it is so highly acclaimed, I expected it to be some brilliant allegory relating to social anxiety, young rebellion, and the nature of the teen spirit. Instead, it seemed to be about an immature and depressed kid whose story had no significant purpose. Also, there was little to no character development. Holden is a very immature boy and he even said so in the novel. ".....I act quite young for my age sometimes. I was sixteen then, and I'm seventeen now, and some times I act like I'm about thirteen." (Salinger) You'd think after flunking out of his fourth school, and being homeless in New York for almost a week, he would have learned some life lessons and "grown up" a little. I think it would have been a much better novel if there had been stronger themes of character development. I felt that the lack of character development made the story line seem pointless.
I've found that this book is extremely overrated in it's popularity. I could see how some people might enjoy it, but I don't see it as the radical novel that it's so frequently made out to be. As you can see, this book was just not my cup of tea.