Thirteen Reasons Why
I wanted to read before watching the show and seeing what everyone was talking about. I understand the conflict between whether this book is good or bad for teenagers to read, and I can see both sides.
This one wasn't a mandatory read for our high school, but I know many people who did have it assigned to them. I also knew going into the book what it was roughly about: a girl who committed suicide and made tapes directed towards each of the people who had a hand in her story to make them understand exactly their role or consequence in the series of events.
I think that the story may be important to teach high school students to understand how bullying or rallying against a single person or group of people can influence their thoughts or actions, and even the thoughts or actions of others towards that person. By having a 'slutty' reputation, others treat Hannah differently or expect her to act a certain way without actually knowing her. Just because she is listed as having the 'best ass' of her grade, it does not imply that someone can come up and smack her ass or if she was rumored to go out with multiple guys, it doesn't mean that some creep can make his move just because she's experienced. This is an important part of the story, but the end result can make a detrimental point.
It is in no way an instructional guide to how to commit suicide or how to enact revenge against bullies or those who have done you wrong. It is also a horrible representation of suicide and depression in general. Mental illness needs to be talked about, but not connected to certain events or emotional turmoil. Even though there were subtle signs with Hannah, depression or suicidal thoughts are not something that can be 'traced back' or 'exposed'. The fact that Hannah had an exact timeline in her head of what led to her decision just shows that there was more to the situation than what seemed. She's basically blaming these people for what happened instead of (almost) taking responsibility for her own actions or reactions to what happened.
I like the main point of the book: reach out to others because you never know what they're going through. Be kind to others no matter what. Don't let someone's reputation change the way you see them or prevent you from talking to them. And most importantly, always know that you have someone to talk to.
But, do not base all thoughts of suicide on this book alone. Don't assume that people want to end their lives because of petty high school bullshit or something someone said to them one time. Depression is a serious issue. It's a debilitating disease that leaves someone feeling worthless, empty, and alone. THAT is often why people think of ending their lives... because they can't stand the thought of living. Suicide should be talked about extensively, especially in schools. I appreciate the message but again, I don't think it was a good representation of suicide or mental illness.