Note: This time of year is always very busy for me. Last year, I hadn't really started blogging yet, so I was able to keep myself above the craziness. This year, I am. My blog is slightly inactive due to the holiday craze. Hopefully will return to the regular posting after the new year. :)

-Bri

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Suicide.

SUICIDE.

Yes, I've just uttered that taboo of a word. 


Before you fill the comments with your rage and disappointment, let me finish. I'm not in any way condoning suicide, nor do I believe in it. If you're going to yell at me, then fine. Just know that you're being immature.

  How many of you have read a book dealing with suicide? How many of you judged it for what it was, and not what it dealt with?
  If you're one of the people who could raise your hand when I asked those questions, I applaud you. No, I want to hug you.
   Something that bothers me is when a person, ANYBODY, decides to completely judge a book on one aspect of the novel. I may not agree with everything the character says and does, but I don't need to. As a reader, I have to understand that I am not the character and they must make their own decisions. Just because they do something does not mean that I have to do it or even agree with it.
   Think about this: Book characters are always exactly like you. They look like you, they speak like you, they have the same lifestyle you do. They are, essentially, you. They do not have magical powers or go on epic adventures. Instead, they stay at home and do the things you do. The people in their lives are extremely similar to yours. There is no story.
   I'm sorry, but I don't read to hear about my own lifestyle and customs. I read to experience things that I would otherwise not be able to. I read to be entertained.

   

   Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

  I thought this novel was beautiful. It made me think so much about the consequences of my actions. It just goes to show that there are always two sides to every story.

   However...

   This novel has received a lot of good feedback, while it's definitely also received many negative reviews. Why? Because the novel contained content related to suicide.
   In my opinion, this novel doesn't really focus on suicide. It's more a think-before-you-do, chain reaction, make-you-think books. This novel isn't as much about Hannah committing suicide, as it is about why she did it.
   Yet, there are still people who tell me that Hannah is a coward. I fully respect these people and am friends with most of them. But it bothers me how I've heard them making fun of Hannah for "being a coward" and that she killed herself "because she was called some names."
   If you've read Thirteen Reasons Why, you know that it went beyond name-calling. A lot farther. While I don't agree with Hannah's decision, I understand it, in a way.
   I know there are so many families that have been hurt by a family member or friend taking their own life. For me, if an author can write a novel that could make teens think before they speak, or do, then it's completely worth it. If an author could help save a life, perhaps several lives, then why would you disrespect that? It just doesn't make sense to me.
   If you didn't like the novel because you didn't feel it was written well or something like that, then that's fine. But for people to bash on a book because it involved something they didn't like? That's just stupid. These things happen in real life, you know.
   How many of you agree with sex before marriage? 
   There are plenty of books, YA books, with that sort of material in them, but they can rise up the best seller list without a complaint.

   How many of you agree with drinking before legal age? 
   Several books deal with that, as well.

   How many of you agree with teen pregnancy?
   It's not even just books that deal with that. It's on TV, movies, and you can find in the lyrics of popular songs.

   You may or may not agree with any of this. And that's my point. You don't have to agree with it. You aren't the character. It's not your life or your story, so calm down.


   What are your thoughts, guys? I'd love to hear them. Leave me a comment.




9 comments:

We Heart YA said...

(OMG I had this 6-paragraph long response written, and then Blogger ate it!! Okay, here's a shorter version...)

Excellent topic, Brielle. Like you, I hate when books are judged incompletely -- whether it's by label ("ew romance") or topic ("suicide? no way!") or cover ("PINK?!") or whatever.

I also agree that 13 REASONS WHY was a very thought-provoking story. I've heard the same thing about BEFORE I FALL, and I can personally recommend HOLD STILL by Nina LaCour.

As for teenage sex, well, there are plenty of people who hate books with that in them too. Also, violence. For example, HUNGER GAMES is frequently challenged in schools and libraries.

Personally I think censorship is the wrong tactic. It's better to read and discuss, to talk about the characters' choices -- why they made them, what they could have done differently, what would you do, etc. THAT'S how people learn and grow.

What's the point of hating something, anyway? Frankly, it says a lot more about you than the thing you're hating on.

KH

Christine Amsden said...

Great post! Totally agree!

Suicide can be a touchy subject. I was once told, when I took a writing class, that suicide was absolutely not an option for a hero or heroine, that this was a cowardly choice, and that no one would want to read it.Maybe. But it is a pretty black and white attitude.

I haven't read the book in question (though I am intrigued) but from the sounds of it, it has attempted to do a very brave thing by showing us the mindset of a seriously depressed person. It's hard for people to understand that depression is actually a sometimes fatal disease. Getting inside the head of such a person has to be uncomfortable, but at the same time, getting inside a character's head is exactly what books can do best, and one of the reasons I like to read more than watch TV. I'm fascinated by various points of view.

From the point of view of the readers who don't like this, perhaps they feel that the attempt to understand a person who would commit suicide is almost like condoning it. (Don't know, just trying to get inside their minds as well. :) ) Many of us have been hurt by someone we know commiting suicide, so it is painful.

But I figure, if it's causing so much debate, it's probably doing its job. Thank you for sharing!

Cait said...

Really thought provoking post, thanks for writing it. My favourite ever book, the Virgin Suicides (as I'm sure you can guess from the title) deals with suicide. mass suicide actually. I think authors should be able to write about what they want to write about, nothing should be taboo. and hopefully literature like this will release some of the stigma surrounding these topics. as long as a book doesn't glorify suicide, then it's fine by me. As long as we aren't getting kids thinking suicide is glamorous or romantic I really don't see a issue. EVERYONE loves Romeo and Juliet, and the two main characters in that essentially committed suicide. Thanks so much for writing this post.

Kare said...

hmmm I like books about problems. Like rape, suicide, and loss. They present characters and situations that I count myself lucky not to have been in. I think it is silly that people call these characters cowards 1. They don't have a single inkling into this characters world. 2. The character doesn't *really* exist. I would like them to walk up to the real family that is grieving there loved one who committed suicide and tell that family that they think their kid was a coward. I would't, nay couldn't do that.

just a thought...

YA Lit in 100 Words or Less said...

This reminds me about how people/schools try to censor books they have not even read!

Check out/follow my blog: http://ya100words.blogspot.com/ YA Lit Reviews in 100 words or less and songs to read by!

Gen L. said...

I read this book a while ago (even got it signed by the author who is a very nice man) and it is true that many gave it bad feedback and reviews simply because it talked about suicide (gasp). This book was very good and, according to the author, I believe it saved some lives or helped some people realize that they knew someone with thoughts of suicide. Jay Asher actually read to the audience some of the letters he got from fans.
It really makes me mad when people judge books because of their topics when they could be teaching us something.
Anyways, awesome post.
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http://genessisliahut.blogspot.com/

Al said...

This is seriously one of my favorite books I have ever read. It was written so well! I just wanted to hug Clay and Hannah the entire time! It is DEFINITELY more about life than it is suicide!
<3 great post, love.

Cary Cheyenne. said...

I really love your thought process regarding this book, and all books who deal with suicidal story lines. You're right, it's really not about the act that's committed, but the before and after results. I haven't read "Thirteen Reasons Why" yet but I've only heard good things about it. I hope people do branch out and look toward the story rather than feeling the entire book is taboo. You've made so many great points!

Lyn Midnight said...

This is by far the best post I have read in a while. Simply because you are honest and unafraid of the consequences of what you say. Not that there is anything to be worried about... I have myself wondered and talked about these things with friends and colleagues, but you know how people get when this kind of thing gets out online right? Especially where there are all of these politically correct considerations and taboo restrictions.

You know, I still don't get why anyone would think that talking about this would make it worse than it already is. For what is worth, I think the opposite effect is also true. Spread awareness and encourage understanding, THAT's what the world needs, not cloaked pretence of perfection.

That's like the fear of Voldemort's name. And who won at the end? The boy who was brave enough to say his name without fear.

Thank you for this thought-provoking post! Really, I'd like to hug you for that. :)

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Comments make me smile! If you liked the post(or have any questions), then leave a comment! Thanks! :)

--Brielle

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