All I could think as I progressed through this novel is that I have to stop reading YA books with all the teenage angst that is becoming so annoying. I know, I know, it is a novel about a girl who has committed suicide and has left behind tapes explaining the reasons why. So I knew ahead of time that this would not be a feel-good story. Maybe the real problem was that I kept waiting for “big” reason that put her over the edge. Hannah keeps mentioning the snowball effect and the pyramid of reasons she is building, but it seems like a molehill, not a mountain of reasons. I mean, do teenagers kill themselves because of rumors that are undeserved? Maybe but I just didn’t feel her pain in the way I expected.
And the biggest, most horrible thing that happened to someone didn’t even happen to Hannah. Instead it is an act that Hannah could have prevented but didn’t because she was having a pity-party in the closet. Then just a few minutes later, she could have prevented another tragedy but, again, she doesn’t. Granted this tragedy did not happen right in front of her, but it still was preventable if she had only made a phone call. I could see where both of these events could have pushed her into feeling suicidal on top of the crappy way she was already feeling, and that’s what I was expecting. You know, guilt, guilt, guilt. But instead, she’s so busy blaming the two individuals who were truly responsible that she pretty much glosses over her part of the blame. Absolutely those two other individuals were to blame, not Hannah but everything else in her story is so typical teenager that I could not relate to it as worthy of suicide. Hannah is whiny and wants us to believe that all the betrayals she has ever experienced are the reason she killed herself. She doesn’t ever confront anyone about their lies or their part in her undeserved bad reputation; she just quietly lives with it and then blames everyone else for her decision to die.
I actually agreed with her teacher in the end about her choices: confront or get over it. That’s probably not a popular opinion these days with anyone who would rather point fingers than deal with personal problems. But Hannah chose not to speak a word of her problems to anyone until the very end, and then when he didn’t give her the response she was looking for she walked out. Did she really think he would solve her problems and bring her back from the brink of committing suicide when she wouldn’t even tell him the whole story? Hannah’s expectations were totally unrealistic: make me feel better even though I’m not really going to tell you what is wrong.
Then there is Clay who didn’t do anything to Hannah but still has to listen to the tapes and wonder until his part is revealed why he is on there. Hannah could have let him know at the beginning of the tapes that he didn’t need to worry, that his part is not one of blame. Instead she lets him wonder and agonize for hours while he listens.
So no, I didn’t really like this novel but I didn’t hate it either. I kept wondering what would happen next, so it was never boring. It’s just that it never got to the “Wow, so that’s what made her lose hope and want to die” moment. Hannah never seemed devastated enough from her betrayals to take such a drastic step. So the story just did not ring true for me.