Title: Thirteen Reasons Why
Author: Jay Asher
Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin Group
Release Date: June 14, 2011
Genre: Teen and Young Adult, Social and Family Issues, Suicide
Format: ebook, Hardcover, Paperback, Audio
Rating: 5 Lattes
Heat Rating: Dark to Espresso Roast
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 Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.
The only real difficulty I had with the book at first were the descriptions of Clay’s actions. They were inserted at ‘random’ points, sometimes jarringly so, as he listened to the tapes. I suppose it was the only real way to remind you that the whole point was that he was listening and reacting to the story just like you were.
And the effect was impressive. You didn’t get lost in the narration as if someone were telling a story, instead, you were pulled into the emotions and thoughts of Clay as he processed what he was hearing.
What kept me reading (or didn’t).
My husband and I listened to the audio version while on a road trip. We listened to it over the course of two days, the second of which was about 5 hours straight.
I had to request – no, demand – one stop near the middle of the book so I could collect my emotions before listening to the rest.
I knew the context of the book before I started it, which I thought would have prepared me for a heart wrenching read/listen. I was wrong. Having been the victim of what was sometimes severe bullying in school, I was not at all prepared for the emotional impact this story would have on me nearly 30 years after I graduated.
The harder topics in the book (rape, drug and alcohol usage, etc.) were not candy coated, but neither were they presented gratuitously. There was no denying what was happening, how the character felt about the event, or what their reaction was after. To say the emotions in the book are raw would be an understatement.
All that being said, I walked away from this end of this book hopeful. Which is good, because there are moments when you absolutely FEEL the hopelessness of all the characters. I was nervous as we got toward the end that the author was going to leave us feeling completely brutalized by the intensity of the story, but at the last moment, the whole story has a purpose, and THAT is what made the emotional wringer of this book worth it.
I have listened to the audio version twice, and read the ebook.
About the Author:
Jay Asher was born in Arcadia, California on September 30, 1975. He grew up in a family that encouraged all of his interests, from playing the guitar to his writing. He attended Cuesta College right after graduating from high school. It was here where he wrote his first two children’s books for a class called Children’s Literature Appreciation. At this point in his life, he had decided he wanted to become an elementary school teacher. He then transferred to California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo where he left his senior year in order to pursue his career as a serious writer. Throughout his life he worked in various establishments, including as a salesman in a shoe store and in libraries and bookstores. Many of his work experiences had an impact on some aspect of his writing.
He has published only one book to date, Thirteen Reasons Why, which was published in October 2007. He is currently working on his second Young Adult novel, and has written several picture books and screenplays. Thirteen Reasons Why has won several awards and has received five stars from Teen Book Review. It also has received high reviews from fellow authors such as Ellen Hopkins, Chris Crutcher, and Gordon Kormon.