Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher has been on my night stand for a few months. I knew the premise, and quite frankly I was a bit nervous to read this- it is such a strong subject matter. But right away when I picked it up, I fell so hard for this novel. It was such a powerful story. I have no idea where to start.
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.
As said in the overview from Barnes & Noble, Thirteen Reasons Why is written in dual narrative- through the voices of Clay and Hannah. The interesting part of this dual narrative is that Clay is alive and Hannah is dead. Hannah committed suicide, and there are thirteen reasons why. There were many incidents and people in her life which led her to give up, but there were thirteen stories that were intertwined. Hannah wanted to tell her story, so she recorded on cassette tapes these thirteen stories and shared them with the people who were a part of each. Each member of the list received (or will receive) an unmarked package containing the tapes and a promise- that if they don't listen and pass them on, the tapes will make a very public appearance. These people will forever be connected through Hannah's story of a life lost. They all know the deepest darkest secrets of Hannah Baker- and the part they played in her suicide.
I must admit that I was completely invested in this story- the minute I picked it up, I couldn't think about ANYTHING else. It consumed me. Thirteen Reasons Why was like falling into another dimension. The writing was phenomenal- it was strong and emotional and raw. Asher wrote the story through cassette tapes- the nostalgic stop-play-pause button symbols were incorporated as well. This simple addition made it much more real, I could almost hear the once-familiar hum of a Walkman. While reading, I couldn't help but feel emotional. I was nervous, anxious, sad, emphatic, confused, and at times experienced moments of happiness and relief. This was such a well written novel that deals with a tough topic- but at no time did I feel like the topic of teen suicide was diminished. It was honest and raw. I also felt it was honest in that it also placed blame on all parties involved- not just her peers and the adults in her life, but on Hannah herself... and that's what a suicide is- blame cannot be placed on just one person or incident, but it is a culmination of things and people, leading to the letting go of self.
Thirteen Reasons Why is a Young Adult novel dealing with a very tough subject. I would definitely recommend that any young adult who reads this has at least one person whom they can talk to afterwords. It is a heavy topic that, in my opinion, needs a bit of processing and debriefing for the younger teen set.
There is also an interactive website dedicated to Thirteen Reasons Why with videos, reviews, an interactive map feature, and news. The site is a healthy and safe place for readers to express their reactions to the story.
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