Thirteen Reasons Why
by Jay Asher
Summary: Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.
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This is one of my absolute favorite books! It reads very much like a thriller, taking the reader through the story along with the main character, Clay, who is following a type of twisted scavenger hunt put together by his classmate, Hannah. It’s a sort of last will and testament, except instead of doling out personal possessions, Hannah is unloading years worth of baggage hung on her by the subjects of her tapes.
There’s been some controversy about this book, especially since the Netflix series came out (very well done but I would still encourage everyone to read the books first, obvs), which is understandable given the subject matter. However, the message in this book is crucial to teens and young adults. To the kids who are hurting it can be an escape into a revenge fantasy that might quell an urge to follow in Hannah’s footsteps. To those that have social equity in the high school echo system, it shows how a seemingly innocuous comment can unravel another person.
“No one knows for certain how much impact they have on the lives of other people. Oftentimes, we have no clue. Yet we push it just the same.”
- Hannah Baker, Thirteen Reasons Why
As a victim of bullying myself I like that Asher emphasized the consequences of people’s carelessness and apathy. I like that he wrote this story to be unflinchingly voyeuristic both to Hannah’s life and Clay’s. It’s a difficult read about a difficult subject but it is absolutely essential reading for parents and teens.
Have you read Thirteen Reasons Why? Tell me what you think in the comments below or tweet me @dianneinwriting