Review: Thirteen Reasons Why

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Publisher: Razorbill


Source: Purchased

From the cover:

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.

I normally wouldn’t pick up a book about teenage suicide simply because of the depressing subject matter and the fear of being too affected by the book. My friends, however, have been bugging me for the longest time to give this book a shot and I finally got around to doing so.

Despite my friends’ encouragement to read Thirteen Reasons Why, I was a little apprehensive when I started it. It’s always difficult to read books about suicide, especially among teenagers, and I wasn’t sure how this book was going to affect me. I was pleasantly surprised though by how Asher dealt with the subject matter. He portrayed the reasons behind the suicide in a realistic manner and I could definitely see how one person’s actions may affect another. It makes you rethink how you should act and treat other people.

I was one of those annoying little kids that would constantly ask why. I always want to know what the motive was and what led someone to act in such a way. I think one of the things I learned from this book is that there isn’t an easy answer to that question. There wasn’t one simple reason that led Hannah to do what she did. Throughout the book she constantly refers to the snowball effect. How one person’s action cause someone else to do something and so on and so forth, ultimately leading towards the suicide.

At the same time though, the opposite is true. Any person could have broken the chain reaction and prevented the suicide from occurring. The signs were obvious and if the students were looking for it they would have seen it. What she needed was a friend to step up to the plate and let her know how valuable her life is. Sometimes doing nothing at all and being a bystander is just as bad as being the instigator.

Hannah was an easy character to connect to despite playing a postmortem role in the book. Even though I knew she was already dead from page one, I couldn’t help but root for her and hoped that she would somehow find the strength to get through high school and deal with the stress, pressure, and rumors that was suffocating her.

Suicide is an extremely serious matter and I don’t think most high school students realize that. I remember we had annual seminars about suicide while I was in high school and most students just took it as getting out of class early.

I think it’s strange for me to say I love a book about suicide, but I really do and I would recommend it. I hope people read it and realize that their actions, big or small, affect the people around them and to think about the consequences of their actions before going through with it.

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Posted on July 20, 2010, in 4.5 stars, book reviews and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. I am going to have to read this book! It sounds like it would be very moving.

  2. I liked this book, but not as much as you did. I felt like Hannah was too quick to blame everything on other people and not take any responsibility herself. I wish the author had included the warning signs of suicide somewhere in the book.

    • i completely understand where you’re coming from! i didn’t particularly liked some of the reasons she gave for committing suicide, but i kind of gave her the benefit of the doubt and thought that with everything else piling on up on her that she deserved some slack. it would of been nice if he elaborated on that point a little bit more and gave teenagers something to look out for among their friends.

  3. Very nice review, DW. I remember just before the end of my junior year in high school when one of “the popular” guys killed himself. It can happen to anyone and to anyone’s family……

    • oh my! you’re absolutely right about that. just the other day i was talking to my cousins about students at her school committing suicide and jumping off of parking garages and the other day one of my friends was telling me about how some guy jumped off of the parking garage next to her work place. it’s crazy to see how huge an issue suicide is and the frequency of its occurrence.

  4. Great review! I really “liked” this one too and thought it had a realistic approach to the subject.

  5. Toothy, do you and/or your friend live in St. Louis? I just went to a service last night for a kid who jumped off a parking garage. You must. That would be too much of a coincidence. How many kids do that..

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