THIRTEEN REASONS WHY
Written by Jay Asher
Published by Razorbill, June 14 2011
My star rating: 4 stars
You can’t stop the future.
You can’t rewind the past.
The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.
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. Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever. (Goodreads)
This book say on my ‘books to buy’ wish list for probably three years or so. But when I found it at a thrift store in near perfect condition for 25 cents – of course I bought it! It still sat on my shelf unread for a few months as I waited for the release of the TV show – and it was finally time to read it.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I find it very difficult to review books dealing with mental health. You could have a group of 20 people all dealing with depression, and each one of those people will experience it a different way. I feel that reading books with mental health issues are the same thing. 20 people can read the same book and take away something different from it.
This is told from the perspective of Clay, a friend of Hannah’s, as he listened to the tapes she circulated after her suicide. I wasn’t sure I would like that but it gave so much depth to the story. We were listening to her words as she described people and events that lead to her choice to take her own life while simultaneously getting his thoughts and emotions. Some of the people in these tapes couldn’t possibly have known how their actions could play a role as she never communicated with them what she was feeling. Having Clay’s narrative really drove that point home.
I think it’s obvious that this is a haunting read. We’re hearing of these terrible events that lead to a girls final decision to take her own life – in her own words and voice knowing that whatever she says, it’s too late. There’s no going back. There’s no making things right. There’s no saying I’m sorry. There’s only guilt and finality. What some of these people did was downright awful, and some of them, the act seemed so small. What was most haunting for me was seeing it all laid out in sequence. While some of these peoples actions seemed like nothing at the time, it was a snowball effect. Something that one person deemed innocent and funny can turn into something that negatively effects someone else and pushes them to their breaking point. Being a teenage is freaking hard. It’s the time for making mistakes and finding who you are. Dealing with the “teenager drama” makes everything so much harder.
Obviously she had an underlying issue that made all of these events so much more impossible to deal with. We don’t really get much information about her life before the events on the tapes, but there was something inside of her that made life impossible. I wish we could have learned more about that. And it was all just so frustrating! Reading this book just begging for her to talk to someone and get some help. But that’s the thing that I found most true to life. When you’re inside that head space you think that no one cares or wants to help.
I think this will be a very good book to adapt to the TV screen and I can’t wait to watch it now!
Until next time, happy reading!