Book Review Books

Book review: Thirteen Reasons Why

You don’t know what goes on in anyone’s life but your own. And when you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re not messing with just that part. Unfortunately, you can’t be that precise and selective. When you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re messing with their entire life.” – Hannah Baker in Thirteen Reasons Why

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. In the month of mental health awareness, I picked up this book. Having heard so much about the book, I was quite excited to read Thirteen Reasons Why. It’s about Hannah Baker, the girl who committed suicide and her tapes that she has left for some of her “friends”, 13 people who are in some way responsible for her final act.

The story begins with Clay receiving a shoe box full of tapes which he realises are from Hannah who has been dead for a few weeks now. In the tapes, she talks about all that happened to her and why she took such a drastic action.

The author, Jay Asher has built an amazing story with a continuity that forces one to turn to the next page to know what happened next. Hannah’s account along with Clayton’s narrative of the same time period makes this a very intriguing read.

Though you know what happens in the end, the story grips you because it’s not about what happens but about how it happens. The mental trauma that certain acts can have on others is depicted in a very real manner.

Hannah declares in the first cassette itself that she is making the tapes for people who were responsible for her suicide. From that moment on Clay is intrigued and worried because he liked her and can’t figure out when and how he hurt her so much.

First person narration of both Hannah’s and Clay’s stories is what makes this one a different and intriguing experience and really leaves a mark. I feel that this book is a must read.

My rating: 4.9/5

Book Review Books

Book review: Missing, Presumed Dead

Illness is not good, but when it comes to mental illness somehow everyone’s first concern is to hide it from the world. We never try to understand the depth of the problem and the solution that can cure this illness. Any kind of problem is labelled as madness and tucked into some secluded corner of the house and life.

Kiran Manral has written a story of one such woman who is battling her demons that exist only in her mind. Aisha has a history of mental problems, and when her half-sister, Heer pays an unexpected visit to her house, her life takes one more turn for the worse. Aisha lives with her husband and two children, all of whom have been affected because of her illness. But, it is Aisha who is hurt the most.

We see her as a woman who has seldom control over her mind and there are days when she can not bring her to move from the bed at all. She has been given medication but she stops taking them as soon as she feels better. Her married life has been affected by all this and she and her husband rarely talk to each other. Her children love her but are also scared of her. And amidst all this, she opens her door to find Heer at her doorstep and Aisha’s control over herself unravels. And barely two days later, Aisha disappears.

Missing, Presumed Dead is a good thriller with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia at its core. Rarely do we have the main character suffer from such a problem and not branded villain. Mental illness is real and should be cured just as someone would cure a stomach ailment. The major characters are good, and have a grey side to them. It is quite easy to hate Heer and like her at the same time. Kiran Manral has woven an interesting story and the twists will keep you hooked to the end. It is quite enjoyable.

My rating: 4/5

P.S. Thank you HT Brunch and Amaryllis Publishing for the book.