Book 38: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
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.
I absolutely loved this book. As soon as I read the premise, I had to read the book to figure out what Hannah’s reasons for killing herself were, and from the moment I picked the book up, I couldn’t stop reading it. This was such an interesting idea for a novel, and I liked the way it switched back and forth between narratives. It’s not like most books where you read a chapter or a scene from one POV and then it switches; it switches back and forth between sentences sometimes, and the whole thing flows really nicely. I was immediately hooked, and I couldn’t stop reading until I knew all thirteen reasons.
I think this is an important book for teens to read, and if this whole become-a-high-school-English-teacher thing works out, I will definitely try to find a way to either include it in a reading list or at least have a copy on my shelf for people to read if they want. This novel shows that you can’t just assume you know what’s going on with a person based on what you’ve heard about them, and it shows how even the smallest, most insignificant things can make a huge difference in someone’s life. It also shows that you can’t let your fear rule you, that sometimes you just have to put yourself out there.
There’s a definite moral to this story (in case you couldn’t tell by the last paragraph), but I didn’t mind the lesson because it was such an interesting story, and I think we can all relate to at least one of the characters. Sure, not everyone spreads rumors or uses people, but most of us have seen someone in pain and brushed it aside. Most of us have had crushes on people and have had trouble acting on it. I think that’s part of what makes Clay such a great narrator – his biggest flaws are the ones that most of us can relate to.
I will admit, though, that as much as I loved this book and couldn’t stop reading it, I was a little let down by the ending. I guess I was just expecting the reasons to keep getting bigger as the list went on, and while that was sort of the case, it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. I still enjoyed the novel, but I guess I expected there to have been a bigger reason behind her wanting to kill herself. After all, she had a guy who liked her, parents who loved her…I guess I just don’t see why neither of those things balanced out the rest. It wasn’t like she was tortured every day. I guess I just wanted to finish the book and be able to say, “Yeah, I’d probably kill myself if I were in her position, too,” and I just couldn’t say that, not even a little.
That said, I still enjoyed the book. And, really, the ending that I disliked really makes it that much more of an important lesson – that it’s not just the obviously miserable people that you have to watch out for. Everyone gets sad and lost and overwhelmed. Everyone needs help sometimes. And I liked that Hannah wasn’t blameless, that part of her reason for killing herself was also guilt over what she let happen because she was afraid. She’s not completely blameless in some of the events that happened, and I think that’s part of what makes this such a compelling novel – the characters feel very real. I would definitely recommend this book for teenagers and anyone who likes a story that focuses on people and the consequences of their actions.