Saturday, May 17, 2008

Book Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

I've been sitting on this review for a little while, mostly because it just needed a couple of tugs and tweaks to be postable. I named this book my Teen Standout for March and promised a review, so finally here it is!

Book: Thirteen Reasons Why
Author: Jay Asher
Published: 2007

It's been two weeks since Hannah Baker's suicide, and just like everyone else who knew her, Clay Jensen still doesn't understand why. Then he gets an unusual package in the mail. Seven audiotapes, with Hannah's voice on them. Each side contains one story, about somebody in her life who contributed to her descent into darkness. Thirteen stories, and one blank side. Not coincidentally, these thirteen people are also the only ones who will receive this package, one after the other, and learn how their actions, or inactions, affected Hannah's decision to end her life.

Over the course of one night, Clay will listen to Hannah's taped voice and follow the map she left in his locker, seeing through her eyes and hearing her story. The question is, at the end of it, will he understand her choice any better than he did when he started?

And will he understand what he could have done to save her life?

This could have been just another angsty suicide novel, but Jay Asher did something intriguing when he brought in the idea of the taped stories. It makes Hannah's voice one of two in the story. Clay's perspective allows us to realize that as much as she believed she had no choice but to take her own life, Hannah had a number of chances to reach out to another person. At the same time, we can see that other peoples' choices and actions affected Hannah deeply, and often in a way that those people probably never could have anticipated.

Along with Clay, we have an exceptional chance to hear someone's personal story, and to understand that every story has at least two sides, and often many more.

1 comment:

Doret said...

I loved Thirteen Reasons Why. After I read it, I wrote a blurb for it, that was geared towards girls. A few months back I wrote a new blurb geared toward boys. The beauty of this book is it works boths ways. I have the boy blurb out because girls have no fear and will still check it out.

Also I love that in the age of Ipods and MP3 players Asher went out school with cassette tapes and made it work.