Let me preface this by saying that I finished watching the series nearly one month ago. It was so overwhelming and heavy that it has taken me this long to formulate a coherent response. And perhaps this won't be terribly coherent.
I have not read the book. I most likely will. But, as of this publication, I have not. This post is in response to the show.
The show, which is currently a Netflix smash hit, was recommended to me by a mom-friend. She told me this was a "difficult show to watch, but one every parent should see."
I binged the show. I watched multiple episodes each night.
Stu couldn't watch it. He said there was something about it that he didn't like. I said it is probably too realistic. He said that might be it. Also, I think, maybe it bothered him because he is the dad of a
(one day too soon a teenager) girl. I asked him again last night if he could explain why he didn't want to watch it... he told me the plot was something that didn't interest him, he knew the outcome and didn't want to watch a show about a girl killing herself.
For those who do not know, 13 Reasons is the tale of a group of friends, school mates, and acquaintances who are all responsible in some way for a girl named Hannah's suicide. Before she dies, she records 13 cassette tapes and lays out each person's role in her demise.
I cried. Like a blubbering child. I cried through multiple episodes. The last two especially.
The entire series is beautifully made and powerfully written.
It hit close to home for me on so many levels.
As a mother, the role I most associate with myself. I cannot imagine the pain of losing a child. I cannot fathom the pain of losing one in this manner. I would never be able to forgive myself if...
As a former educator. One of the things I tried to do in my classroom was make a safe place. A place where everyone could voice insecurities. It wasn't always like that... mostly this was for the AP kids. I am not ignorant or arrogant enough to think I mastered that or that the kids weren't living crazy lives outside of my classroom. I guess I just hope I helped someone. I hope I did not miss any glaring warning signs. I hope I made each kid feel loved, valued and needed.
As a girl. As a survivor. As a former high school teenaged girl. I think this was worst part for me. Parts of the show was like reliving my past. When the show wrapped, I thought my God, that could have been me. Being a teenage girl (sometimes) sucks. Other girls are mean. Boys can treat you like dirt. Your self-esteem can plummet without much warning. Your inside voice is not always a reliable friend, heck, sometimes your inside voice is a bigger enemy than anyone else.
As a friend. As a human. As a Christian. I hurt so much. Yes, this story is fiction. But it could very easily be true. I cry because somewhere there is a girl who hurts this much. Somewhere there is a kid crying out, asking for help, asking for love, asking to be wanted...
I applaud Jay Asher for writing the book.
One of the reasons I fell in love with literature and studied it in college was its ability to shine light on the dark, dirty and otherwise ignored parts of human existence. Literature, good literature, timeless stories are the ones that make us uncomfortable. They are the ones that give us an outlet.
Don't hide this story. Don't ban this book. Don't pretend it doesn't exist. Use it. Use it as an opener to have difficult discussions with your kids. Use it to begin a dialog with your children, friends, family or self.
My oldest child, Reagan, is 10 and my son Riley is 8. Oh, and I'm also currently pregnant with baby 3!! Everyday is a crazy day in the life of the Stus!!!!