Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Cereal, Orange Juice...and a Couple of Tears

The other morning, I received an e-mail from a teacher. It was longer than a simple "Loved the book!" message, so I printed it out without reading it and headed downstairs. My wife was pouring herself some orange juice. I grabbed a bowl of cereal, then we sat down for breakfast.

I began reading the letter out loud, and about half way through I stopped. My voice had caught and I needed to catch my breath before I continued. When I looked up, JoanMarie had tears welling up in her eyes.

Some days begin so beautifully.

(I received permission from the teacher to share her words with you, though I changed any identifiable details.)

I teach high school American Lit. (and History), so when I saw your book at the bookstore, I had to read it. Bullying was a hot button issue in our district, but getting the students to understand why it’s so important to stop was difficult. One of my favorite students ever, Amanda, was my aide and after I read the book, I gave it to her--hoping she would get what I got out of it.

Amanda is a tough girl with a difficult home life. She isn’t a “bully,” but she isn’t always friendly either. After reading your book, Amanda told me that she was never going to be mean to another person again because she never knew who else was being mean to that same person. She also apologized to a former classmate that she had teased the year before. She said that because he always laughed along, she assumed he didn’t mind, but after reading Thirteen Reasons Why, she realized maybe he did mind, or heard it too much from everyone. After that, Amanda wouldn’t let me “be mean” to any of my students, either. She’d whisper, “Remember the book! Be nicer!”

Thank you.

You presented a unique, not overly dramatized book about teen issues and gave me a way to help make my student a more caring person.


BJW said...

This is really special. What a validation that YOUR writing directly affected someone in such a way. Really cool. I dream of that myself some day. Great job.

Frankie Diane Mallis said...

Aw thanks for sharing! Its so inspiring to hear how much of an impact writing can have on a person's life!

Lily Benan said...

Thats so sweet! That must make you feel amazing to read things like that!


storyqueen said...

Really, really honest and beautiful.

Candace said...

Wow. That is so beautiful, and a wonderful example of the real-life impact such amazing books like yours can have on people! Kudos to you!

Kelly H-Y said...

Wow ... what a wonderful testament to your book. That letter must have meant the world to you!

Jay Asher said...

It's so wonderful how open people have been about their experiences with my book.

It's just...beautiful! I don't know how else to describe it.

Joan said...

Remember the willowy blonde who took on the senior class officers at RAL and challenged them to fund the purchase of 13RW for our campaign? She was a bullying victim who found hope in 13RW. Told everyone she met to read it. Then there was our bullying girl who DID decide that she was going to change.

13RW: Pass It On! GO JAY!!!


K. M. Walton said...

There is a tremendous amount of power in the written word, more than I think we writers realize sometimes. Just think about how good books have the power to seep into OUR adult souls...same goes for younger people, too. Maybe even more so, because adolescents are still reaching, still trying to figure it all out.

Go Jay.