Dear Jay Asher,
I don't want to have to say I'm sorry; sorry for not realizing the impact of my actions; sorry for not doing enough to ease a classmate's pain; sorry for being too late to help. Also, I'm scared - scared that my words and actions could be contributing to someone's pain. I can't imagine, and don't want to, what it would be like to go to the funeral of a classmate who has committed suicide, to see that empty seat in class, and to know that I could have done something. Your book Thirteen Reasons Why showed me that it truly is the little things that matter. Too often when thinking about bullying, I tend to only look at the big, public things-physical abuse in the hall or verbal abuse online. However, in reading your book, I realize it is also the little things, such as Hannah experienced, that build up and cause devastation. It's the ugly rumor, the lack of respect, the ignorance of another's pain. Each on its own may not seem like much but together begin to erode a person's soul, similar to the snowball that starts small and then begins to grow and pick up speed until it becomes an unstoppable avalanche.
Throughout reading your book, I did much self-reflection. Is there someone in my life that I could help? After finishing it, I lay in bed late at night, emotions roiling. I started analyzing my own actions. What could be the repercussions of what I do? I would like to think that I am a kind person, I certainly wouldn't call myself a bully, but your book made me wonder if any of my actions, or non-actions, could be hurting someone. I also realize that as a leader and class officer in my school and someone that people might be looking up to, my actions can influence others. Maybe I am joking around with a classmate; maybe I'm not serious, but what I've said may have an unintended impact. Like Hannah said, no one knows what impact he or she has on others' lives. The idea that it comes down to is simple: I don't know. I don't know what is going on in other peoples' lives and how my words and actions may come across, and that is what scares me. Could I have inadvertently hurt someone in the past because I didn't think about how my words might have come across?
Bullying is an issue in my school. It seems as though there will always be those kids who feel the need to demean others. Teachers and other adults can lecture us about bullying day after day and year after year, but some kids just won't listen. Since we tend to see the world through our own experiences, we often don't realize what others are going through or what it is like to be bullied. We all have to realize what impact our words and actions, or inactions, have on others. Your book shows vividly what can happen when we don't.
Prior to reading your book, I thought that it would be obvious if there was someone like Hannah in my class, but that really isn't the case. It is not always the big events that cause people to become depressed and possibly commit suicide. It can be those little hurts that add up and slowly spawn devastation. People, especially victims of bullying, are good at hiding their feelings. I don't know what is going through my classmates' heads, and like Hannah said, "Everything affects everything." My actions towards someone at school are not forgotten when that person walks away. As such, I have become more conscious as to whether my words and actions are contributing to the growing avalanche of pain or diffusing it.
Few books have caused me to feel the intensity of emotions that I felt when reading 13 Reasons Why. Few books have felt so real. I am not someone that cries much, but I'm not ashamed to admit that tears came to my eyes many times while reading your book, most notably, when reading the thoughts going through Clay's head - the regret and anger for not saving Hannah, for not realizing her pain soon enough. This is what scared me the most. Clay didn't contribute to Hannah's death, but he will forever be wondering if he could have done more to save her. I don't ever want to be in Clay's position. Finally, one last feeling emerged for me. When Clay saw Skye in the hall at the end of the book, I felt the same emotions he did: anger, sadness, pity. But just like Clay I felt something else: hope. I don't want to be sorry; I don't want to be scared, and I now have hope that I won't.