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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Genre: Young Adult

Copyright: 2007

Pages: 288

Rating: 4 1/2 crowns

Synopsis: 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 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 first-hand witness to Hannah’s pain, and learns the truth about himself – a truth he never wanted to face.

Review: I was drawn to this book from the moment I saw an advertisement for it, so I snatched it up the first time I saw it in a book store. The idea of exploring a teen suicide from a serious perspective was very appealing to me, because I think this is an important issue that affects us all, and should be addressed as such.

This book is a very effective avenue for not only exploring teen suicide, but how our individual actions affect the people around us. Hannah devotes one side of a tape to each reason that went into her ultimate decision to end her life. And while I didn’t agree with her reasoning, I also understand that people aren’t rational in this kind of situation and their reasons don’t need to make sense.

I really liked the way the story unfolded, and how we were able to see that seemingly little things on the parts of a variety of individuals turned into a very big problem for Hannah. And how one change in attitude or behavior could have saved a life, but we can all be so thoughtless, we very rarely realize how our actions really affect one another. To me, that’s the real theme of the book – how we all need to think more about what we do and how it may affect the people around us.

The book is written from dual perspective, with Hannah’s tapes spliced together with Clay’s reactions to them. It was a great way to show the point of view of someone who cared about Hannah, and really helped you to feel Clay’s anxiety as he learned about everything that went into Hannah’s decision.

I read the whole book in one sitting, and kept hoping for a twist ending where Hannah wasn’t actually dead, and had just played a game to show people the error of their ways. I liked her, wanted to help her, and show her that the anxiety she felt would surely pass as she progressed in her life. But as is the case in real life, Hannah was serious and no one tried to stop her, so a life ends tragically long before it should.

I cannot recommend this book enough, both for the story and themes it covers, as well as for the serious discussion I hope it opens up between teens and their parents. Hannah could be anyone, she seems like someone we all knew in school, and I think it’s important for people to talk about this issue before tragedy strikes in their own lives.

Visit Crystal @ I Totally Paused!


Alaine - Queen of Happy Endings said...

Crystal, this is a fantastic review and even though the subject matter is very heavy, you've made me want to read it!

K said...

Great Review.. I've been trying to get this book for a while now, your review just makes me want to find it faster

Holly said...

The premise of this book made me snag it up right away too but I still haven't gotten around to reading it. Looks like its a winner and I'll have to make time soon :)

Andrea said...

I agree with everyone you said. I loved this book and found it to be extremely affecting. You have the point of this books down exactly.

Crystal - Princess of Pop Culture said...

Alaine - I'm glad to hear it! I really highly recommend it, and with it being such a fast read, it's a lovely experience to take up a few hours.

Crystal - Princess of Pop Culture said...

K - It really is fantastic. I actually waited awhile after getting it to read it, but now that I read it, I wish I had done so right away. Good luck in your quest :)

Crystal - Princess of Pop Culture said...

Holly - I definitely recommend bumping it up on your reading list. I really couldn't put it down, I found myself starving and not even wanting to get food because it was so good.

Crystal - Princess of Pop Culture said...

Andrea - Thank you! I'm glad you agree, I kind of had a hard time writing my impression of it, wanting to capture the whole thing and do it justice :)

Bere said...

Brilliant review Crystal! I haven't read this one yet.
But I plan on getting it soon.
Thanks for your review =)

Crystal - Princess of Pop Culture said...

Bere - I definitely recommend bumping it up on the TBR pile, it was fantastic!