Would you let your child read 13 Reasons Why? A spokesperson for the American Library Association wants schools to keep Jay Asher's novel on shelves.
Asher published his novel 13 Reasons Why (stylized as Thirteen Reasons Why upon its original publication) in 2007, but it has since received brand-new readership thanks to Netflix's TV adaptation. Renewed interest in the novel has also put a spotlight on some of the book's controversial subjects, with some schools pulling it from shelves — or even banning talk of the novel and series completely — due to its alleged glorification of suicide.
The novel, which revolves around Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford in the TV show) revealing her "reasons" for choosing to end her own life via 13 tapes, has already been temporarily pulled from school libraries in the Mesa County Valley School District in Colorado. The reason, according to the curriculum director, had to do with a recent spike in suicides in the state.
“I think we were just being cautious until we had the opportunity to look at the book and see how closely related to the movie it was,” the director told The Associated Press.
Ultimately, the books were added back into circulation following a protest from students — but it's not just teens who think the book is important. Speaking to The Huffington Post, James LaRue, director of the American Library Associations’s Office of Intellectual Freedom, asserted his belief that schools should look at potential benefits of 13 Reasons Why:
"[People] have been writing about suicide because it happens. It doesn’t happen because people write about it," he told The Huffington Post, later adding: "The popularity of the series might really save lives and so might more reading and talking about the issue. But silence won’t help us at all, and censorship is never the answer."
With a subject as sensitive as suicide, it's hard to see any easy answers. However, whether you agree with the alleged merits of 13 Reasons Why or not, it is doing one important thing: opening up a dialogue about how to prevent suicide.