Jay Asher Visit

Rhiannon Horton, Reporter

Jay Asher, author of the New York Times bestseller Thirteen Reasons Why, visited West High on Friday, April 24th.

His book describes a young girl named Hannah Baker who committed suicide and has left 13 tapes to 13 people.  She describes how they impacted her life in a certain way and why she committed suicide.

Jay Asher has been visiting all of the other states on his “50 States Against Bullying” tour.  He had visited 48 states and Alaska was his 49th state to visit.  He gave a presentation to about 250 students about his book and of course, bullying.

Ms. Tinker, an English teacher, helped organize Jay Asher’s visit.  She initially heard from a parent who contacted her about the opportunity and he said he wanted to visit Alaska.  She explains Thirteen Reasons Why as, “Basically getting across the message that every interaction you have with other people matters.”

He gave a 40-minute lecture about his own motivation to write his book and why suicide isn’t really talked about in most schools or homes for certain reasons. “Suicide is such a loaded word. It brings up a lot of emotions especially if you know someone who has attempted or committed suicide and I think that there is enough in our society that just focuses on that itself,” Tinker explains

Thirteen students were chosen to eat lunch with Mr. Asher that afternoon during 4th period.  They ordered Bear’s Tooth pizza and were able to ask him some questions.  Many questions were asked, and he answered them with complete detail and was very thorough.  Jay explained that he wrote his book because a close relative of his attempted suicide.  He also explained that he feels amazing for changing lives because he was never expecting it.  He was weirded out when his book went global (available in 37 languages).  He talked about his visit.  He loves Alaska and he thinks it’s beautiful and fascinating.

Arleet Del Real was one of the students who attended his assembly.  She has read Thirteen Reasons Why halfway through and knew that Jay was trying to get published in the past. None of his children’s books were successful except for Thirteen Reasons Why.  “It was a very good assembly,” Arleet says.  She describes the assembly and her favorite parts. “My favorite part was he didn’t just talk at the assembly.  He made it interesting because you know this stuff is really boring.  Sometimes he wouldn’t talk about his book.”  Arleet didn’t hear anyone speak negatively about this assembly, which most likely means that he did an amazing job.

Many people like Arleet feel like Jay Asher’s visit to West really impacted the students and staff with what he spoke about.  Students may have learned a few new things about bullying or suicide that they didn’t even know about; such as every little thing you do could either impact someone negatively or positively.  You just have to make the right choices on how you treat others and pay very close attention.  Jay Asher taught the students that every interaction matters, no matter how big or how small.