Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Release Date: October 18, 2007
Genre: Young Adult
The Story: 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.
My Review: After hearing more than once that this was a good book I finally decided to check it out on audio from my library. I'm not one to read a book cover before reading the book as I tend to like the surprise and wow, this book was such a surprise for me. When the book first began I was intrigued by what had happened to Clay to have kept him up the whole night before. When the tapes from Hannah first began to play, I immediately felt frozen with fear at what she would say. I felt as if I were Clay and even though I didn't know if I wanted to hear what she had to say, I couldn't not listen.
This book brought up so many emotions for me as to what high school and really, life in general, are like. From the moment Hannah began telling her story I was so wrought with sadness and a desire to change the ending that I knew was coming that it hurt to listen. It hurt to know that there are so many others out there who are going through those same things or who have gone through them but had no one there to listen. So many teenagers (and adults for that matter) don't truly understand how their actions can impact someone's life. It's heartbreaking how something so simple and avoidable can spiral out of control, ending in the loss of an innocent life.
After reading it, I was discussing it with a blogging friend and she was telling me how she worried that some depressed young adults may take this book as an example of how they can succeed in taking their own lives or it might be just the excuse they were looking for. I absolutely see that side of the argument and understand how that could upset some people but I see it more as there are people going through these things and almost no one realizes it. I felt that this book really gave a first person narrative into just how excruciatingly cruel young adults can be at times and I think that every young adult should read this. Especially those young adults who are not contemplating suicide. You need to see what your actions can do to someone who isn't in a good place in their life. You need to understand that there are consequences for your behaviors. You have no real way of knowing what someone's life is like just from what you see at school. You can't possibly imagine how hard it is for some people to even get up in the morning when all they face at school is ridicule or judgment from those surrounding them.
Now, I don't want to get on my soap box and tell you that I've never treated another person unjustly or never called someone a name without fully knowing the story behind the rumor. We've all done it and I'm sure most of us have regretted it or at least known better in the moment. I'm not perfect but I can tell you this: I promise you after reading this book, I will never again make that mistake. I will think about what I say and do and how my actions can affect those around me.
This is an absolutely INCREDIBLE book and if you get the opportunity, I would definitely recommend listening to the audio version.