“Thirteen Reasons Why” by Jay Asher
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Summary from Goodreads:
Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen 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.
This is an incredibly powerful book. It’s pretty hard to sum up my thoughts on it but I will try.
Thirteen Reasons Why deals with the difficult issue of teen suicide. Even more difficult, it deals with how someone gets to that point. It’s not an overnight process. It’s not a flip of a switch. It’s something that builds on itself over time. I thought it was really interesting hearing about all the individual people involved. Maybe some of the things these people did weren’t “bad enough” to get Hannah to this point. If they were an individual, isolated incident, I would agree that they were horrible but something that could be coped with. But the thing with bullying, tormenting, and downright hateful teenage behavior is it’s never an isolated incident. Things always build and snowball out of control.
This book reminded me a lot of Jodi Picoult’s Nineteen Minutes. You really stop and think about how you were in high school. You might not have meant to be hurtful with what you said to someone but it did hurt them. Or worse, you DID mean to hurt them but you had no idea what else they were going through. I’m so glad I’m not a teenager anymore and for the most part my peers are past this nasty stage.
I thought the idea of going back and forth between Hannah and Clay was a cool narrative tool. I did find it confusing in places though. There were times I had to reread a passage several times because I didn’t understand what was going on with Clay. Maybe it could have wrote more clearly? The writing style was great though. I found myself flying through the book in an afternoon.
The bottom line? It’s a difficult book content wise but absolutely worth a read.