Why you need to read 13 Reasons Why whether you’ve watched the series or not

13 REASONS WHY - PRODUCTION STILLS - 016. Beth Dubber/Netflix
13 REASONS WHY - PRODUCTION STILLS - 016. Beth Dubber/Netflix /

It’s time to read Jay Asher’s 13 Reasons Why

There are many books out there to read. So many are transformed into a TV series, whether as a limited series like Good Omens or continued on like Big Little Lies. 13 Reasons Why is a book that has been transformed, but now you need to turn to the source material.

Now that the Netflix series has come to an end, it’s time to go back to where it all started. This is your chance to look at the original story, the meaning behind Hannah Baker’s words.

On the surface, it will look like the story is the same as what was told during the show. After all, there are still the tapes to each of the individuals. There are still the reasons why Hannah chose to take her own life. There is also the story of the abuse—mental, physical, and more.

There’s more to the story than the show could say

Hannah Baker’s story has much more than the show was able to develop. Sure, on the surface it looks like 13 Reasons Why Season 1, but when you delve deeper, you’ll realize that there’s more. This is a story that offers an insight into the mind of a young girl who is suicidal.

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There are phrases that stand out when you know how the book completely ends. There’s phrasing that makes you stop and think—showing the reader that this is a character who had suicidal thoughts long before she took her own life.

It makes you think about people in your own lives. As a reader, you start to think about whether friends are showing some of the same signs because they’re so vividly described in the book.

While showing the suicidal thoughts and signs of trouble, there’s a focus on empathy. This isn’t about judging the victim or even trying to figure out the reasons why, despite the title of the book. It’s about sharing reasons to empathize with that person telling the story.

The focus on abuse

Sexual abuse and rape are two important storylines in 13 Reasons Why. This focus is more than just on the act. It’s a focus on how words can hurt, how abuse doesn’t even initially seem like abuse.

It all starts with body shaming and objectification. This moves onto pressure, non-consensual sex, mental abuse, and much more. This isn’t just about looking at the victim’s feelings, but about the after-effect of the abuse; the struggle for sexual abuse and rape survivors to open up.

The things people say and do can lead to paranoia. Someone doesn’t feel safe in their own home, whether it’s a justifiable feeling or not.

Within all this, there is the hope that the stigma around mental health is removed. There’s the hope that people learn to talk to each other and open up.

The book ends with the tapes. It ends with the truth about Hannah’s suicide and the tapes coming out. The show was able to transform the story further and keep moving forward with de-stigmatizing mental health problems.

And this isn’t just about teenagers learning something. There is the encouragement for parents and guardians to pay more attention, take steps to help victims, actually listen to the words the victims aren’t saying. It’s not easy; people aren’t perfect. That’s a reminder throughout the book and makes it a reason to read 13 Reasons Why.

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What do you think of 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher? Is it a novel you’re reading now you’ve finished the show? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher is available with two-day shipping with Amazon Prime.