40. Thirteen Reasons Why — Jay Asher
Apparently I was hiatus. My bad!
To continue: I read “Thirteen Reasons Why” in my early teens, when I really identified with the book. I had gone through some bullying, was not really happy, and it seemed the book just got it when I felt others did not.
It’s a story of a high school boy, Clay, who receive a packages with cassette tapes mailed by a girl in his school, Hannah, who committed suicide not long before. She mailed the tapes to people and had them send them on, explaining her reasons for her choices and retelling her story.
It’s a good novel for raising bullying and suicide awareness among teens and young adults, and for identifying the signs that someone might be contemplating such actions. It shows how your actions, or being passive about important matters, have consequences no matter how small they may seem. Things pile up, fester internally, and eventually explode. There wasn’t just one reason why Hannah was depressed, and committed suicide, like I believe a lot of people think is the cause of mental issues. There doesn’t need to be one drastic life change that alters your life forever, little things adding up can be just as effective.
“No-legs lay on one-leg,
Two-legs sat near on three-legs,
Four-legs got some.”
— A riddle to Gollum from Bilbo; The Hobbit: Riddles in the Dark (J.R.R. Tolkien)
39. Things Fall Apart — Chinua Achebe
Another book I read for my grade 12 literature class, Things Fall Apart is a staple in modern African literature today. It’s set in Nigeria, around the time of colonialism and missionaries arriving in Africa to preach their religion. I didn’t think I’d like the novel that much, but it was actually very well done and an eye-opener. You get a kind of perspective on pre-colonial Nigerian culture which you may never have thought of; I knew nothing of this before the book. Customs are explained, religious aspects and certain social protocols. I really liked reading about some of these new and interesting perspectives.
There were only two things I struggled with: the complicated (to me) names, and my opinion of Okonkwo. Okonkwo, the main character, was one of the only ones I could get down straight. There were a lot of minor characters, and if I wasn’t paying the closest attention I would get them confused easily. Also I wouldn’t dare pronounce anything aloud. In my opinion of Okonwko, I couldn’t decide if I loved or hated him. It seemed I was either on the polar opposites of the scale with every page or nothing at all. He’s a strong, independent character who wants to preserve his culture, which is admirable, but sometimes he’s just so stubborn you want to throttle him.
If you like books based in other cultures, I would recommend this. Its quite interesting in that aspect, and it does pull at your heart strings somewhat too.
“I don’t go looking for trouble. Trouble usually finds me.”
— Harry Potter; Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (J.K. Rowling)