Thirteen Reasons Why is a young adult novel about teen suicide. It has been very controversial, with some critics claiming that it glorifies teen suicide. I encourage parents to read this for themselves before handing it to your teenagers so you can have a conversation about its themes. I do not recommend this book for anyone younger than high school.
One day, Clay Jensens returns from school to find a shoebox addressed to him on his front step. He could never imagine what it contained: a series of cassette tapes dictated by his high school crush who committed suicide earlier in the month. The tapes are a sort of sinister scavenger hunt, laying out in detail the events that led Hannah to kill herself and the friends, tormenters, and even school administrators who played a role. The recipients are instructed to pass the tapes along to the next person named on the tapes until they all understand the 13 reasons she took her life.
I was fascinated by the first half of the book when Hannah described events that are sadly common for many high school students. Toward the end of the book, I thought the “reasons why” transitioned from being real and relatable to manufactured and contrived.
Years ago, a couple of millenials started a Tumblr celebrating Ruth Bader Ginsburg as the Notorious RGB. As many blogs do these days, that Tumblr morphed into book form, with journalist Irin Carmon detailing the history of the feminist judge’s path to the United States Supreme Court and her ongoing commitment to social justice. Readers learn about Ginsburg’s family, her workout routine, and some of the decisions—and famous dissents—that have defined her career.
I was pleased to find that it’s almost a coffee table book, with a larger-than-average format and plenty of photographs and images to bring Ginsburg’s story to life. The book is organized by topic rather than presenting a chronology, which left me wishing for a more straightforward biography. And perhaps I’m too old for the format, but I found the handwritten ledger notes explaining some of Ginsburg’s opinions distracting rather than informative.