Published by Razorbill
Pub Date: October 18th 2007
Format: Hardcover | Source: Purchased
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
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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.
How many of you have known someone who’s committed suicide? A classmate, friend, relative? I can think of 3. Two classmates and a friend’s younger sister. I wasn’t close to any of them, I was friendly with them, said hello or goodbye when I passed them in the halls, maybe had a drink with them at a party, but I wouldn’t have called them my friends. And unlike Hannah’s situation, theirs were all made in haste with a gunshot, over break-ups. There were no signs, no hints. The fact they weren’t your friends doesn’t take away the feeling of wishing to have been able to say something…do something, anything. To tell them it’s not worth it, that although their heart is exploding with pain at this moment, it will get better.
This book brought out a lot of emotions from me. Obviously it made think of the people I just talked about, but also, while reading about Hannah’s reasons it made me remember how quickly and thoroughly rumors can change a person’s life. Reading them triggered some of my own long-buried memories from high school that I would rather not rehash. I think that’s why I connected so completely with this book. While my own experiences never escalated to Hannah’s point, I still understood her feelings a little too clearly at times.
The unique style this book is written added to how affected I was by it. It’s not Hannah’s chapter, then Clay’s chapter with his reaction. It’s Clay listening to Hannah and reacting to her words in real-time, per say. The fact that Clay is reacting as he’s listening to the tapes made me feel like I was the one with the headphones on.
Hannah’s revelations are all heart-wrenching, but it didn’t stop me from needing to know the whole story. This book is definitely a page-turner. I was up until 4AM reading and started it back up as soon as I could the next day.
What I’ll be taking away from it, as Clay does, is to not ignore any possible signs. To try harder and push past our comfort zones and reach out to those who we think may be going through difficult times. To watch my words and actions to others. You never know what that person may be going through and how you could unknowingly be adding to their distress.
I strongly recommend for everyone to read this book. To share with their students, children, nieces, nephews, friends…everyone. We can all learn something from this book.