Published: Razorbill (October 18, 2007)
Source: ARC rec'd from Big Honcho Media
Clay Jenkins 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.
My Thoughts: You're a windup toy. Some nasty little child (or adult. Hey, I'm not judging your choice of toy) turns your key and sends you on a one-way trip towards the edge of a cliff. You can't alter your path. You can't turn around. You can't fall down. You are on auto-pilot to ultimate destruction. You're pretty much freaking useless and you can't do anything but keep on trucking towards something you know is going to hurt a whole heck of a lot.
Reading this book is pretty similar to that sense of impending doom.
Thirteen Reasons Why is told from alternating points of view. Hannah's story told in italics, with Clay giving commentary and his own story in normal font. I had some difficulty at first keeping both of their stories straight. I wanted to read all of Hannah's or all of Clay's first. Once the story began unraveling, that didn't matter anymore.
This story hit me hard. Not just as someone who's experienced her share of being ridiculed (who hasn't?) But also as someone who has gossiped and thought nothing of it. Not even doing it with malicious intent, but for the sake of something to talk about. Regardless of intention, gossip hurts. Bullying hurts. No matter how harmless you think that passing on that rumor or sharing that secret may be, you're wrong. It was so easy to watch Hannah spiral downward as a result of something that kids, teens, and adults do every day.
This book has changed my entire perspective about supposed harmless gossip or talking behind one's back. Changed my life, even. And to imagine the guilt that each and every one of those 13 people felt after hearing that tape? IT'S CRAZY. I wanted so badly to tell Clay that everything was going to be okay and it'll get easier, but something like that is likely to haunt a person for the rest of their lives.
Thirteen Reasons Why is an intense and completely haunting read. There were moments where I was rendered slack-jawed because I had no other way of expressing the emotions I felt. For real, this book made me cry. Read this if you want one of those books that really, really make you reconsider yourself and everything you know.