Monday, March 29, 2010

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (Review)

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box 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. 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.


A shoebox-sized package is propped against the front door at an angle. Our front door has a tiny slot to shove mail through, but anything thicker than a bar of soap gets left outside. A hurried scribble on the wrapping addresses the package to Clay Jensen, so I pick it up and head inside. I take the package into the kitchen and set it on the counter. I slide open the junk drawer and pull out a pair of scissors. Then I run a scissor blade around the package and lift off its top. Inside the shoebox is a rolled-up tube of bubble-wrap. I unroll that and discover seven loose audiotapes. Each tape has a dark blue number painted in the upper right-hand corner, possibly with nail polish. Each side has its own number. One and two on the first tape, three and four on the next, five and six, and so on. The last tape has a thirteen on one side, but nothing on the back. Who would send me a shoebox full of audiotapes? No one listens to tapes anymore. Do I even have a way to play them? The garage! The stereo on the workbench. My dad bought it at a yard sale for almost nothing. It's old, so he doesn't care if it gets coated with sawdust or splattered with paint. And best of all, it plays tapes. I drag a stool in front of the workbench, drop my backpack to the floor, then sit down. I press Eject on the player. A plastic door eases open and I slide in the first tape.

My Thoughts:
I am about to get candid with you. Unposed as Hannah Baker will inform you in this novel; so honestly, I really did not want to read this book almost if not more than I did want to read it. Why you ask? Because I knew it would hit a little too close to home.

You see, Hannah is a teenage girl who commits suicide. But before she does she records on cassette tape the 13 reasons why. See, now you get the title. Jay Asher lets this story unfold amazingly. I was haunted by it and every chance I got I would run and get back into it. Walking home from work; I had it on audio book. At work; I had the hardcover and reading in-between customers. It was haunting. Even when I didn't agree with Hannah, I understood her. Because I was her.

I too was a 16 year old. I was perpetually the new kid but where she was a rumor minefield, I was simply invisible everywhere I went. The unseen, the cared for, I simply was not there. And like Hannah, I thought about suicide being the answer. I cringed a lot reading this book. Because it shows how desperate Hannah is and what got her to the point of giving up but it also showed exactly how selfish she was and in turn how selfish I almost was. I had written the letter goodbye, several of them. But in the end, thankfully I found a reason not to; any reason would have worked for me.

That’s what this story meant to me. It shows how those who are contemplating suicide are really looking for is any reason to stay alive. Just the smallest thing. It is a sad fact that a lot of people don’t find that reason. A fellow blogger recently did not find a reason to stay alive. It’s who I thought of when I read this book, Prissy Green AKA karissa, she didn’t find that reason. Everyone says but she was so happy and fine.

Fact: right before someone commits suicide people often say that the person seemed happy and calm. That is because they have decided already and they are at peace because they KNOW. They KNOW what they are going to do. They see the end. So if you see a sudden mood swing for the better in a person, don’t just let it pass as “Okay, they are better now.” It’s exactly the opposite; they are in the most danger at that point. Don’t over look it. Don’t over look anyone.

This isn’t much of a review, I know. But I will say I love this book. It felt so organic and real. It was like it was happening in a local school to the point that I want to go to my neighborhood school and shout out “Hannah! Hannah Baker? I can help you.” Because even if the she or even he isn’t named Hannah Baker…They are still out there.  Know the signs.  Be aware of the Warning signs!
 If you need help for a friend or yourself Don't be afraid,
1-800-273-TALK (8255)
You are not alone-help a friend
Find help in your state
There is help

I am here to listen as well, living proof, it can and does get better. Reach me.

In memory of Prissy Green and all the other beautiful souls we have lost.  I love you and miss you.

Keep reading,


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Truly, MadlyThe Final Dance TrilogyUnder Sea's ShadowIn Stone's ClaspOn Fire's WingsTalk Me Down

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