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.
Its not very often that a book sits with me for weeks after I read it. I can name the number of books that have done this for me and there are only a few; The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, On the Jellicoe by Melina Marchetta and this book.
Thirteen Reasons Why is a book about teen suicide and it’s a confronting look into the lives of teens, the people around them and how everyone has the chance to be there for someone else. The story follows Hannah’s struggle with a new school, parents that are otherwise occupied and kids at school who don’t realise the impact their actions have.
I think the reason this book hit so hard at home with me is because is it technically brilliant; weaving two narrators in one story but never losing the integrity or sincerity of each is incredible in itself, but also emotionally heartbreaking. Jay Asher clearly understands suicide and not just the psychology behind it, or the reasons for it but everything else. The grief that follows, the unanswered questions and the gnawing doubt that you could have done more are explained effortlessly for the reader.
Naturally such a controversial book has mixed reviews; I think though this book is a must for teens because it shows people how even the smallest action can change someone’s life, and I think it would really open a lot of teens eyes. At least that’s how it was for me, eye-opening. After reading this book I thought about it for weeks before I could write down my thoughts because they were all over the place.
I understand the motivation for Hannah to kill herself, I understand where some of the others characters were coming from and I get why some people think this book glorifies suicide. But I think the aim of this book isn’t to teach kids not to commit suicide, I think it’s to teach them that everything they do affects someone else. I think this book helps teach people social awareness and that’s a really important lesson.
4.5 out of 5 stars