Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Book Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Title: Thirteen Reasons Why
Author: Jay Asher
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: October 18, 2007
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 288
Source: purchased

Literary Awards:
Georgia Peach Book Award Nominee (2009)
South Carolina Book Award for Young Adult Book Award (2010)
California Book Award Silver Medal
Abraham Lincoln Award (2013)
Missouri Gateway Readers Award (2010)
Oklahoma Sequoyah Award for High School (2010)

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier. 

On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one them. If he listens, he'll find out how he made the list. 

Through Hannah and Clay's dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers. 

My Thoughts: 
Thirteen Reasons Why is such a powerful story.  We learn from the synopsis that the book is about a girl who committed suicide but it really is so much more than that. It is a very somber, emotional read that shows the fragility of the teenage spirit and how easy it is to lose yourself. 

I think this should be required reading for teenagers to help them  build empathy and understanding of how their actions affect others. It's very thought-provoking and eye-opening.

The writing is engaging and demands to be read. This was my first time encountering a narrative like this, told by two different people at the same time, Hannah through cassette tapes and Clay in the present as he listens to those cassettes. The double narrative did seem to really clash in the beginning and was a little difficult to follow in the first few pages but once I got the hang of it, it really flowed well and was enjoyable. There was such a somber mood to this entire story that I had to read it slowly and soak up every word. 

It's been so long since I read something like this and I'm not even sure I can say I've ever read anything like this. I wonder how this book would have affected my life if I had read it as a teenager. Would I have been more guarded towards those people who I thought were friends but actually weren't? Would I have had a better understanding of my peers and how their (and my) actions affected others? Would it have changed my outlook on depression or suicide? 

My only problem with this book is that there isn't any anti-suicide helpline numbers on a separate page at the end. At least, not in my hardcover copy. Ok ,there was a list of 13 questions to/from the author with a question addressing what to do if a friend is showing signs of wanting to commit suicide as well as one for if you yourself are thinking about it, including a number you can call, but I felt like it should have been separate. There is a big chance that young readers will read this book just because they have those thoughts and I think that a page dedicated to those numbers would have been helpful. 

1 comment:

  1. I actually agree that books with themes like this would really profit from helpline information etc.
    But it does sound like this book is worth a read! I've been putting it off but hopefully I'll remember to grab a copy soon!