Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Samstag, 1. Oktober 2016

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Published: October 18th 2007 by Razorbill
Number of Pages: 288 Pages (Paperback)
Series: No

   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. (goodreads.com)

   I've had this book on my shelf for at least over a year but, even though I knew I really wanted to read it, I never picked it up. But then as I was browsing through audible, I remembered it, remembered that it's largely based on the narrator listening to tapes, so I thought it's the perfect book to listen to.
   And I was right.

   Thirteen Reasons Why is one of those books that I would call important, touching upon a topic people might find uncomfortable, especially when shown in this way. Personally, once I was done reading it, I felt the urge to write an email to my old English teacher to ask her if there is any sort of way she could incorporate this book into her lessons (knowing all too well that that's not possible).
   In Thirteen Reasons Why we follow Clay as he receives a box filled with cassette tapes containing thirteen different stories and reasons explaining why this girl called Hannah decided to commit suicide. This definitely isn't an easy, afternoon read that'll just entertain you. This is the sort of book that will make you stop and think about yourself and the way you treat others, what effect you might have on them even in moments that you'd think are trivial, insignificant.

   I don't think this book is for everyone, despite being nearly unputdownable, because a lot of it depends on you as reader being able to sympathize with Hannah, if her voice and narration style will click with you. Personally, I sympathized very much with her, and sure, some of her reasons might not come across as something that you'd think would have such a grave impact on a person, but I can understand why they affected her the way they did. If you take reach reason as a separate thing, none of them are heavy enough, but you have to remember that, as the story progresses, these reasons are stacked on top of each other creating this much larger, much more complex picture that will make you understand that it's very realistic that all of them together could make someone snap.
   Bullying especially is something that affects people in different ways, just like harassment that might not have that big of an affect on one person but might change someone else's life completely.
   Something that also stuck out to me was the discussion on how boys, in a way, find reasons and explanations for why they are entitled to treating girls a certain way, or talk to them a certain way. That was certainly a very interesting aspect that I think is still very much a big issue today, even more than back when Thirteen Reasons Why came out, adding only more to the list of reasons why I would have loved to read a book like this in English class and discuss it.

   When it comes to Clay, the supposed main character of the story, I really liked the way his story progressed throughout the book, how he was questioning why he got those tapes, how he could've affected Hannah in some more meaningful way. Once it was finally revealed and he understood what happened and what he did, or didn't do, I actually teared up a bit along with him. The one thing that I'd definitely criticize about him is how quickly he changed his mind, which I think would take much longer in a real life setting.
   Also, and this has nothing to do with Clay, did people actually still use cassette tapes in 2007?

   All in all I can very much recommend Thirteen Reasons Why and think it's an important read, especially for young people. I think this book raises many good points and gives a lot of material perfect for discussions and personal reflecting. I really much enjoyed listening to it, so I can recommend the audiobook. The two narrators did an amazing job at bringing Clay and Hannah to life.
I give Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher 4 out of 5 stars.

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