Friday, June 11, 2010
Thirteen Reasons Why
Written by: Jay Asher
Released: October 18, 2007 by Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Summary: 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.
Ok, I can understand why people think that this book is too self-absorbed and petty with Hannah’s character narrating the reasons why she committed suicide, but I really have to disagree. Where some see her reasons as stupid and pointless, I see them as layer upon layer that built up on top of her until she collapsed. I think that’s how it usually is when people kill themselves; it’s the little things that build up rather than just one really big thing.
Which leads me to Hannah as a character; I didn’t find her whiney. In fact, I thought that she was incredibly truthful and, as the book develops, you see how she came to terms with her suicide. She wasn’t necessarily going around dishing out blame for the reasons that she committed suicide, though she was (hence the title), but she was also taking blame onto herself. She was letting these specific people know that, sure some things could have happened differently, but you never know until after it happens. Hindsight is always 20/20 though, isn’t it? No, I don’t think that the tapes were her placing blame solely on one person but they were meant to show that what a person does can reflect on someone else’s life without anyone knowing. I think that the tapes were meant more as a warning than anything.
Which brings Clay into the picture. I think that he may be the only one who ended up taking Hannah’s words to heart, which is shown at the very end of the book, since some of the others seems to be pushing the tapes aside and claiming that it wasn’t their fault. I think that this is what makes Clay such a good narrator to counter what Hannah says. Between the two of them you get alternating sides to the same story and the reader can really see the different perspectives.
The book as a whole was amazing and it really opened my eyes. I don’t think that I’ve ever really read a book like this before. If you haven’t already read this, try picking it up next time at the library or the bookstore, especially if you want a break from the paranormal, dystopian books that are conquering the bookshelves right now. I promise that you won’t (shouldn’t) regret it. I’m giving this book a very high 8/10. Where I don’t think that I’ll ever read it again, it was truly amazing.