The premise of the book is before the girl commits suicide, she records a tape for each of the 13 different people (reasons) that she pinpointed that led to her death. Before she dies, she sends the tapes to the first person on the list and then insists they listen to all of them, pass it on to the next person and if anyone fails to do it, the tapes are released to the public.
One boy that she did like and liked her is on the list and that’s who we follow as he listens to all the tapes.
It may seem a little grotesque to read an entire novel which serves as a suicide note but the story reads like a murder mystery, each chapter unfolding how the person affected this girl’s life.
I finished it in 3 sittings and I can’t shake the book from my mind today.
As you can imagine, many themes emerge from the book but I walked away remembering we’re all connected and even the tiniest of encounters, words, or actions can greatly affect those around us, even if they aren’t directly said or done unto a person.
I thought specifically about gossip and how I really have struggled with that over the years. Not that I made up lies and spread them or purposely spread untrue things. But I think at some points in my life I prided myself in knowing something another person didn’t. It took a few times of breaking confidence and hurting people’s feelings that I learned my job was not filling a person in on the finer points of someone else’s life.
Gossip is not just hateful or untrue talk. It’s ANY chit-chat over someone else’s personal life. Sure, there’s a time and place for talking about specific situations but overwhelmingly, it’s just plain old gossip.
Proverbs 18:8 from the Message says it like this: Listening to gossip is like eating cheap candy; do you really want junk like that in your belly?
It’s junk. Just plain old junk.
Track your conversations for a week and you’ll see pretty fast if this is an issue. If it is, stop it. I can say this because I had to say it to myself at one point. Just quit talking about e’erbody else!
In the book, you really see the affect of gossip and people’s opinions of each other. They drove this poor girl to her death. Let’s not believe the lie that our words don’t have the same power.
Curious, I looked up in the Bible about words and I determined there’s only two ways it refers to words. Life and death. That’s it.
Either your words are defiling, rash, corrupting, obscene, angry, careless, wrath-provoking, foolish OR your words are healing, graceful, life-giving, salty, gentle, satisfying, and joy-inducing.
Which is it?
Let’s be a people whose words heal and not hurt.