Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Thirteen Reasons Why

by Jay Asher
published: Razorbill, 2007
pages: 304

Trigger warning: suicide

Hannah Baker could have been anyone and she was that; she was just a person trying to survive high school with her life and reputation in tact.  Unfortunately, that was stripped from her in a series of seemingly unrelated and inconsequential events.  Now the thirteen people who helped her make her decision will hear her entire story and understand that their actions or inactions affect those around them.

This book is important.

This book was told in a way that is unlike anything I've read before.  Hannah speaks openly through a tape recorder to the people who have helped her unravel.  It gives the readers an insight and explains that every action has a reaction whether or not we see it.  There are consequences.

The message is powerful, moving, but it doesn't come off  preachy.   It makes people acutely aware of situations that they've experienced.  When I was reading this, I found myself thinking back to high school, wondering if I had blown off someone who just needed to talk, needed a friend.  I'm sure there was an instance, it happens to everyone right?

We meet Clay who very suddenly receives an unknown package which reveals to be a box of tapes, Hannah's tapes.  Reading this book, I felt like I was witnessing two people slowly coming undone, but in very different ways.  It is heartbreaking; I felt completely helpless reading this book as I imagine the receiptents of the tapes would feel the same.   Hannah might be unloading her story, and intentionally (in most cases) guilting the people who receive her tapes, but she is also giving them a chance to make it right.  Maybe not for her, but for other people who may feel the same way she did.  I think that's where the importance of this story lies, not with Hannah, but with Clay and the others and how they chooses to respond to the tapes.

Stars: 4/5


"A brilliant and mesmerizing debut from a talented new author."
     --Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"A stealthy hit with staying power...thrillerlike pacing."
     --The New York Times

"Thirteen Reasons Why is a mystery, eulogy, and ceremony.  Twenty or thirty times, I snapped the book shut when a sentence, an image, or line of dialogue was too beautiful and painful.  But I, afraid and curious, would always return to this amazing book.  I know, in the years to come, I will often return to this book.
     --Sherman Alexie, author of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

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