Monday, February 4, 2013

Thirteen Reasons Why, Jay Asher

"Sir?" she repeats. "How soon do you want it to get there?" I rub two fingers, hard, over my left eyebrow. The throbbing has become intense. "It does't matter," I say.

Thirteen Reasons Why wasn't as amazing as The Future of Us, but it was pretty close. It was also a really, really, really sad and heavy book. "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 learns the truth about himself-a truth he never wanted to face." 

I felt like the beginning of Thirteen Reasons Why was too heavy, too preachy, I suppose. But it got much better as the book progressed. Hannah tells about various people who caused her to fall deeper and deeper into a web of mistrust, and how they (unwittingly or not) caused her to commit suicide. Clay himself loved Hannah for a long time. And then there was the night of the party, really the climax of the book, when a lot is explained. The whole book basically builds up to that one scene, that one tape, that one moment. And the aftermath of it.

The format of this book takes a little getting used to. Hannah's speaking is interspersed with Clay's own thinking, her audio voice in italics, his in regular letters. Sometimes, I would be confused, and then realize that they had switched narration. But it fit the book really well. If Jay Asher had chosen to alternate chapters, it wouldn't have worked as well. 

Just like in The Future of Us, there's this idea that everything affects everything else. In The Future of Us, what you do in the present affects your life fifteen years ahead. In Thirteen Reasons Why, if Justin spreads a malicious rumor about Hannah, and so-and-so believes it, and then they do something because of it, and then this whole chain of events starts unfolding, ending with Hannah's suicide. 

Speaking of endings, I loved the ending of this book. It felt right, and just a little bit hopeful. Like things could get better, and maybe Clay can have a second chance, even if Hannah can't. This time he can do the right thing.

288 pages. 
Outstanding Book That Will Stay On My Bookshelf For Rereading (jf I own it)!


  1. Great review - I listened to this one on audio and it worked really well! The dual narrators were fabulous, plus it was like listening to the tapes. I thought it was a bit over the top preachy at times too.

  2. Did you just say this wasn't as amazing as The Future of Us? I haven't read that book yet but I can guarantee you that you are wrong good woman. This book is completely AMAZING. Didn't your heart die a little for Clay? I didn't see the preachy part.