I finished reading Thirteen Reasons Why, a young adult fictional novel, yesterday, and put off writing a review until now because my mind needed to simmer awhile on what I wanted to write. After watching the Netflix adaptation, I was inspired to read the book by Jay Asher. I have to say upfront that I liked the book A LOT more than the Netflix series. There are many differences between the two, and the Netflix series is much more brutal than the original story.
Thirteen Reasons Why has won many awards:
American Library Association’s “Best Books for Young Adults”
Heartland Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature
Florida Teens Read Award
California Book Award
Barnes & Noble’s “Top 10 Best for Teens”
Chicago Public Library’s “Best of the Best Books”
I read the Deluxe Tenth Anniversary edition, which also includes an introduction from Jay Asher, deleted scenes, and original ending. The cover is stunning, showing a teen girl sitting on a swing, half in the dark, half in the light. This accurately depicts Hannah’s emotional battle. A gold play button sits in the middle, waiting for you to press play and hear her story.
You can’t stop the future.
You can’t rewind the past.
The only way to learn the secret…is to press play.
“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 why 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 firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and as he follows her recorded words throughout town, what he discovers changes his life forever.”
The novel is told from two perspectives, Hannah Baker’s and Clay Jensen, who were classmates at Liberty High School, in an unnamed town sometime in the 2000s. Clay and Hannah also worked together at Cresmont Theater. Jay Asher has said the story was based on the town where he grew up, San Luis, California.
At first I found the back-n-forth between Hannah’s taped voice and Clay’s present thoughts jarring, but quickly adapted, and realized this technique allowed Clay to express the reader’s responses to some of Hannah’s irrational reasoning.
Asher tackles the touchy subject of suicide in a gentle, yet authentic way. Thirteen Reasons Why highlights friendship, family, trust, loneliness, and depression in a thrilling modern coming-of-age story.
Clay listens to all seven tapes in one night, the reader turning the pages just as fast as Clay turns each tape. This is a really quick read, great for those who aren’t big on reading, who are getting into reading, or who are getting out of a reading slump.
Some may find it hard to relate to Hannah, but when I was a teen I had many of the same feelings she did, have struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts, which enabled me to connect with Hannah easily. Many of her thoughts and actions were completely irrational, and I understand that some readers will find her annoying. I suggest you attempt to put yourself into the shoes of someone who is having a really bad day every single day, who feels left out, put down, used, and abused. Who wants things to get better, but isn’t strong enough to ask her parents or friends for help. If you can find yourself in that mindset then I think you’ll be able to relate to her character.
In his introduction Jay Asher explained the three words that were his motivation for the entire story – “Everything affects everything”. As Hannah shared her thirteen reasons why she wanted to end her life, we see how each character’s story affect each other.
Many reviewers have said they feel like everyone should read this book at least once in their life, and I would have to say I completely agree. I recommend this book to everyone over the age of 16.
Find out more about Jay Asher on his blog http://jayasher.blogspot.ca/