Published by Razorbill on October 18th 2007
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.
I’m having some trouble writing a review about this book. Honestly, this was a great book and I am glad I read it. The way all the stories are related was nicely done, and the writing is really good. It’s a powerful book and above all an emotional book.
The narrative is engrossing. While reading you switch between Hannah’s narrative and Clay’s narrative all the time. I don’t always like this kind of narrative because if you don’t pay any attention you’ll get lost. However, I think it worked for this book. Of course Hannah’s narrative is in Italics what makes it a little easier to read back if the multiple narratives confuse you. The whole tape recorder idea is a bit frightening but original, and this narrative just makes sense if you take the tape recorder in consideration.
Jay Asher certainly knows how to build suspense. With how the stories line up the suspense builds as you come closer to the end, Hannah’s end. What I really liked is how Clay realized that Hannah gave up on herself and on others, he doesn’t try to justify Hannah killing herself. Especially towards the last tapes he states it several times that she gave up on herself and on others.
Because of that I think that the characters actually ring true. I appreciated how Jay Asher didn’t portray Hannah as an innocent victim. Hannah’s journey is dark, we experience her descent from the excitement of moving to a new place and first love, to disillusionment in those she thought to be her friends, to loss of trust and privacy, to disappointment in herself and finally to ultimate self-destruction.
Aside from all of this there are just some things that troubled me.
The parents? Does anybody else feel that they were absent during most of the book? I realize that when this takes place, Hannah has already killed herself, but it seems that they don’t really appear anywhere in the story.
The tapes that she sends to her classmates and the obligation she gave Tony is just plain mean. For somebody that has been bullied herself I think this was one of the worst things to do. The obligation she put on Tony is horrible, he didn’t deserve any of that and why would you want to put that kind of hardship on somebody?
I understand that Hannah was pretty far gone by the time she witnessed the rape, but that doesn’t justify not stopping it. She was there and she could have done anything to prevent it. Instead she let it become another reason to commit suicide, and lets it justify her choice for committing suicide.
All and all I think this is a very good book, and I think that the suicide and the reasons itself is what mostly troubled me. I just don’t understand how it can come so far. I do understand that any action (or even inaction), no matter how small or insignificant, might deeply affect somebody else. But what I don’t understand is how that becomes a “last straw.” And maybe it’s better that way, because if I would understand, I would be in a whole different state of mind than I am right now and things probably would be very wrong.
I would really encourage people to read this book for themselves to decide what you think about it. Many thought Hannah’s decision to commit suicide was unjustified. And I kind of get what they are trying to say, but honestly people in Hannah’s mind her life was over, I really believe that when the time comes there is just a switch that gets turned over and when it does it’s just to late. For Hannah to justify her actions was her switch and who are we to say what is right to go on in a suicidal mind. Just read the book and decide for yourself.