Title: Thirteen Reasons Why
Author: Jay Asher
Published: October 18, 2007
Page Count: 320
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
My Rating: 4/5
Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier.
On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out how he made the list.
Through Hannah and Clay’s dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.
I knew going into Thirteen Reasons Why that I would love it. Well, I guess “love” is a weird word to use since the book is extremely sad and about super sensitive subject matter (suicide, if you didn’t already know). But I wasn’t wrong – as soon as I turned the first page, I was hooked. I was hooked on Hannah and her story, I was hooked on Clay and his part in it, and even though I knew what the end result would be I still had to find out what else she would say on her tapes, who else she would implicate in her death.
Other than the fact that I was swept away with this book and couldn’t put it down, I’m not sure what else to say about it. I think it will hit home for a lot of teens – too many kids are bullied, sexually harassed (which was an unfortunate theme in the book – way too many high school girls deal with this on a daily basis), and just ridiculed in school. I personally was bullied as a kid – not really in high school, but in elementary school and somewhat in middle school – so I could definitely relate to Hannah’s pain. I also went through a LOT of personal issues with my family and other factors that made me feel like “ending it all” would be the way to go. Except that I never went further than writing angry stuff in my journal – Hannah went all the way. And I think this is what is so compelling about this novel – what makes someone actually go through with it? Many people consider suicide at one point or another, whether it be for a fleeting second or for months at a time, but what makes those who actually kill themselves different from the rest of us?
I don’t know that Thirteen Reasons Why actually answers this question but it definitely gives some theory into why Hannah did what she did, why she is different from those that simply consider suicide. From my experience working at a suicide hotline in college, I would say she fits the profile to a degree, though there’s a lot that the book doesn’t tell us about Hannah’s life. So it’s hard to know. Either way, the book is compelling and I think a great read for anyone, regardless of age. Teens will especially love this one, but it definitely hit home for me too, and I think it’s a great choice for parents of teens. Read Thirteen Reasons Why, you won’t be sorry you did.
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