1. It’s a book. I recommend reading books.
2. It deals with a serious and relevant issue: teen suicide.
3. But it’s not merely a suicide. In fact, it’s about a number of issues that contribute to depression and suicide, so that it transcends merely being “suicide lit”.
4. It calls for us to anticipate and understand the connections between people and events in our lives that lead us to make the decisions we make (and not make the decisions we don’t make).
5. The story deals with the consequences of gossip and social bullying.
6. The story deals with the consequences of sexual assault.
7. The story deals with the consequences of plagiarism and libel.
8. The story deals with the consequences of dishonesty in relationships.
9. The story deals with the consequences of voyeurism.
10. The story deals with the consequences of drunken driving.
11. The book acts as a call for us to connect to one another, to push past misunderstanding and rumor, and to see each other as human beings with complicated lives, sometimes with struggles we have no idea are going on.
12. It’s an intellectually easy read, accessible to young people who struggle to read; it’s an emotionally challenging read, stirring us to apply the messages we draw from it.
13. A copy of it was lent to me by a student. By the end of the reading, it had an effect on me, especially considering the presence of an important character who is an English teacher a student comes to for help.
One of the messages embedded in the book is that when someone reaches out to you for any kind of help, try to help them, and when you feel you should reach out to someone for help, try to help them. Don’t second guess, and don’t give up too easily. You don’t know whose life you might help by save just by noticing someone, by talking to them, by honestly caring for them, without selfish motives.
As author Jay Asher said, “Writing this book made me realize how fascinated I am by the way people interact… and the obstacles that keep us from understanding each other better.”