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Monday, May 16, 2011

13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher

"Jay Asher's brilliant first novel is a moving, highly original story that focuses on a set of audiotapes made by a girl before she committed suicide, and which explain to 13 people the reasons why she decided to end her life. Told in a highly effective duel narrative -- alternating between the girl s voice and the thoughts of a boy who is listening -- this honest, poignant story reveals how other people's actions shape, and by extension can ruin, an individual's faith in people. 

Intensely powerful and painfully real, Thirteen Reasons Why reveals how brutal high school can be, the consequences of spreading rumors, and the lasting effects of suicide on those left behind."-GoodReads.

Hardcover, 288 pages
Published October 18th 2007 by Razorbill
Source: Military OneSource Online Audiobook

How cool is it to find a package you were not expecting on your front steps? There is that little thrill when you grab it and start turning it over trying to figure out what could be inside. Then, you open it. Usually at this point you find out it's a good surprise. Clay was not so lucky. What he finds inside the shoe box package is a set of audio tapes which contain a message from a girl. A girl who had committed suicide and the message is the 13 reasons why she did it.

I was told about this book years ago by one of my friends who had to read it for school. She didn't really want to at first but after reading it she swore it was one of the best books she's ever picked up. I will admit though, I was scared to read it. The summary just sounded so heavy and heart-breaking, so I told her I would eventually read it then pushed it to the very bottom of my mental to-be-read list.
Recently though, I've started really enjoying (for lack of a better word) books with heavier subjects and when I stumbled across this one on an online audio book library I couldn't pass it up.

Even though 13 Reasons Why faces a tough subject a lot of people would rather not talk about, I had mixed feelings in the end. 
Hannah says pretty much in the beginning that all the stories she tells on the tapes, all the bad situations she ended up in, all the reasons why she ended her life, started out because of a rumor. Now, I do not condone the spreading of lies but, many of the later situations she blamed on that rumor could have been easily prevented, if only SHE had done something different. She even said so, many many times. And, for me, it was never clear why she just didn't do that something different.

Hannah's 13 reasons why she killed herself were pretty much all because of other people. If it wasn't someone adding fuel to her 'bad reputation' fire, it was because of everyone just standing on the sidelines watching her burn. In all the stories she told I tried to listen to her call out for help, but I never heard it.
Even Clay, who wanted to be more than just friends with Hannah Baker, could not see it. She pushed him away when he tried to be there for her, when he tried to be her friend.

Do not get me wrong, my heart hurt tremendously for Hannah Baker. I wished I could go into her story, slap the boys and girls that did her wrong, and talk to her. Tell her that it will get better but that she has to keep fighting. That everyone gets talked about behind their back, but that is not something worth ending your life over. No one should be made to feel like that. But hearing her on the tapes, listening to her stories she sounded so much stronger, like she was a fighter, so some of what she did just didn't make sense.
And the whole time I wish I could have reached through the story and hugged Clay for having to go through that. His character made me tear more than once.
*Highlight to read only if you have read the book* *SPOILER*
I do wonder though, if Clay had nothing to do with Hannah killing herself, why the hell did she send him the tapes? Why did she put him through that? He had to sit there and listen to this girl he really liked explain why she ended her life and he could do nothing about it anymore...that just seemed so unfair to me.
*End of spoiler*

Even though this has not sounded like a very positive review, I did like it (I can't think of a better word). Yes, it was frustrating to listen to, and sad, but also a good reminder that words can destroy. "Sticks and stones" doesn't really ever apply, does it? So watch what you say to people. It could result in life changing decisions on their part.
I plan to eventually read the actual book to see if I can really get into the story more than I could with the audio.
Even though Hannah was a complicated character to understand, I would suggest giving this book a try.
It's a very well written story that definitely makes you think.


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