Title: Thirteen Reasons Why
Author: Jay Asher
Genre: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Teen Suicide
Publisher: Razorbill (an imprint of Penguin)
Publication Date: October 2007
Rating: 3.5 stars
Synopsis (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.
I was blown away when I started this novel. I wasn’t expecting Hannah to be so angry. But she is. And she’s going to make sure that the people who she blames for ruining her life and contribute to the reasons why she ended her own life know it.
And as a reader of this book I now know it too. Each chapter, each side of the tapes, gives new information, a new story as to just why Hannah is so angry and upset with her circumstances.
One of the biggest messages I got from this book was regarding reputation and how powerfully it can effect a person’s entire view of themselves. Hannah’s was widely exaggerated – and in many ways just plain untrue – but none the less the way that other’s viewed her and treated her as rumours of her sexual experience and other exploits made their way around the school and the town shaped how Hannah thought of herself.
The layout of this book was clever and a brilliant way to set out the novel. The chapters are presented as sides to the tape – each side another story – and in between paragraphs little play, pause or stop symbols were used to show whether or not Clay was listening to Hannah’s narration or trying to figure things out for himself.
Whilst I enjoyed reading this book and couldn’t help but devour the entire novel in a matter of hours, I fundamentally disagree with some events (like the end) and the whole concept in the first place. By that I mean that whilst I understand why Hannah made and sent the tapes, I feel like no matter what she needed to take responsibility for her own actions rather than blaming others. It’s horrible what happened and that she felt like she had no other choices. But ultimately, she’s the one who ended her life. Not anyone else whose names appear on the tapes. I actually felt a little sick too at the reason why Clay got them. Because receiving a package like that – it’s life changing in many ways, none of them good – and by sending them out I felt like she’s ruining the recipients lives in a way that was as bad or even worse than the reasons why she’s sending them out. And now I wonder if Hannah would say that I’m as bad as anyone who was in her class that day when she asked the question…
I can understand why this book was a New York Times best-seller. It’s heartbreaking and so very sad – I got quite emotional whilst reading it and started tearing up.
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