Friday, May 31, 2013

Thirteen Reasons Why

My goal is to read 100 books by the end of 2013.  I just finished book 35.

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Clay Jensen received a mysterious box of 13 cassette tapes.  As he listens, he discovers they were recorded by Hannah Baker, a girl that committed suicide two weeks earlier.  She states there are thirteen reasons she committed suicide and anyone receiving the tapes was one of them.  The book alternates between Hannah's point of view as the voice of the tapes and Clay's point of view as he listens to her story and discovers why he is on the list.

My opinion:
Wow.  Just as Clay listened to all of the tapes in one evening, I also read this book in one evening.
When the book started, I found the quick jumps from Hannah's point of view to Clay's reaction jarring and thought it would take away from my emotional investment.  My opinion changed after a few chapters - the quick jumps felt like a conversation between the two and made it easier to feel Clay's emotions of anger and desperation.
I appreciate that the author didn't glorify suicide, especially since this is a YA book.  Hannah talks about wondering who will come to her funeral...Clay knows there was no service.  The tapes are only meant for the 13 people they apply to, so she's not getting public attention by making them.  Although there was sympathy for her pain, there was not sympathy for her actions.
Some of the reviews I've read complained that her reasons for committing suicide were normal teenage "hiccups" and not dramatic enough.  Isn't that the point?  As adults reading the book, it may be easy to underestimate and forget how seemingly minimal events can be devastating in the eyes of a teenager.  That's what makes youth suicide so robs them of the opportunity to see that things do get better.
My only quibble with the book is that some things were spelled out very quickly, as opposed to letting the reader absorb the information and make the connection themselves.  However, I believe that is due to the fact that this is a YA book and not a reflection of his writing, and I will definitely look for other books by the author.

Quote from the book:
"I'm listening to someone give up.  Someone I knew - someone I liked.  I'm listening...but still, I'm too late." ~ Clay, "Thirteen Reasons Why"

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