With its thrillerlike pacing and scenes of sexual coercion and teenage backbiting, the novel appeals to young readers, who say the book also gives them insight into peers who might consider suicide. “I think the whole message of the book is to be careful what you do to people, because you never know what they’re going through,” said Christian Harvey, a 15-year-old sophomore at Port Charlotte High School in Port Charlotte, Fla. “You can really hurt somebody, even with the littlest thing.”The NYT article is interesting to view also in terms of the difficulties authors must face in terms of publishing their books. Still, at its core, the article is about "Thirteen Reasons Why", a book that is finally perhaps getting the attention it deserves. The rise has been slow but steady. It's always interesting to see when schools adjust their reading lists to include new books (summer lists are most informative), but unlike simply good books which get a lot of rap, "Thirteen Reasons Why" is, in my mind, important. Yes, there are enough teen suicide stories out there, but none, I feel, reach the same level of clarity and importance that Asher's novel does. It's a book for boys and girls alike, teens and adults, readers and non-readers. Even as some don't appreciate it as I do, I think what's special about Asher's novel is that you leave it with a new understanding for a lot of things that you may never have thought of before. And that right there is why "Thirteen Reasons Why" deserves your attention.
Commenter Caite raises a good point I belatedly realize I should have mentioned. Those who don't like "Thirteen Reasons Why" feel, for the most part, that aspects of the suicidal premise put far too much blame on others. It's a valid point. Still, I personally found that this "blame game" ultimately adds to the story, as strange as that may sound. This is not a book to make readers feel good about themselves or about people in general. It's very human in that sense. I view this blame, which some dislike for its moral implications, as human in the same way. There is to a certain extent and need for interpretation with the book which can pull either way - one can see it as a real flaw that hurts, or one can see it as a whiny flawed character. In this regard, I cannot promise if you'll be one or the other and thus enjoy the book. I simply know that I did.