Once upon a time, Lane made the mistake of checking out this book from the library during the school week. What a mistake! Jay Asher pulls you in from the beginning, and I quite literally could not put it down. It went with me to babysitting, I skipped family game night to sit on the couch, and then finally knew that I wouldn’t be able to concentrate on school the next day so I stayed up way too late to finish it off. To anyone who picks this up, you have been warned.
When Clay Jenson finds a mysterious box on his front porch, he’s excited at first (who wouldn’t be?). There’s no name…only seven cassette tapes and a map of town. He puts the tapes in the CD player in his garage, is startled to hear his crush Hannah on the speakers. Problem though: Hannah committed suicide a few weeks ago, and according to her canned voice, he’s hearing this because he’s a reason why. One of thirteen, to be exact.
Thirteen Reasons Why weaves together the tape footage and Clay’s reactions. Jay Asher did this really well! Getting to actually hear Hannah’s words adds power to the story. As I reader, I always feel cheated when the author writes, “I saw the note…he wrote a story” without giving us the exact words. It was a nice alternative to switching point of view every chapter Rick Riordan or Allegiant-stye. I could picture Clay, pounding the pavement, sitting at the diner, seeing the playground (I’m sure my intense reading-face during this book was lovely). This isn’t high literature or anything, just fluffy, colloquial teen-lit, but I could not be more impressed with how vivid and well-crafted the novel was.
That being said, this book probably isn’t for everyone. It doesn’t take much to figure out that a book about suicide motives won’t exactly be warm and fuzzy and lovely. There’s a lot of depressing and uncomfortable content as the story furthers (for example SPOILER sorry, rape plays a role in the story). For anyone trying to weigh out whether to read it or not, I will say that the ending (my favorite part (:) is redeeming.
Some reviews I’ve read are more negative, critiquing the believable-ness (is that a word?) of Hannah’s reasons and the fact that it’s about suicide and how unrealistic/petty it was. I’m not a therapist or anything, but I agree that reading this book if you’re struggling already is probably not a good idea.
But that’s the thing; I don’t think that the book was written for the Hannah’s. It’s for all of us Clay’s. It’s not as much about how suicide affects the ones you leave behind, but about how much our actions, even the “normal” ones, can unknowingly affect others. How dumb jokes, conversations, and even inaction can have far-reaching affects while we remain oblivious. Suicide is a horrible, horrible thing, and there are parts of Thirteen Reasons Why which were truly horrible. But it had a purpose, kept me hooked to the end, and sparked a lot of thought. And for that reason, I’m glad I read it.
Recommended to: older teens; suspense-lovers; deep-thinkers; and people who love contemporary, emotional roller-coasters, and books to chew on.
Have any of you read it? What were your thoughts?
I’m sorry if this post was kind of a downer. Expect a more upbeat DIY tutorial soon. (: