Before I had a book blog, I sporadically wrote about books on my personal blog. From time to time, I like to share here some of my favorite books I’ve read during the last three years. I originally read this one in August of 2009. It haunted me so much that I checked out the audiobook after I returned the paper book. The subject matter is heavy, but Asher handles it very well. He accurately portrays the distorted thinking that accompanies depression that leads to suicidal thoughts.
By: Jay Asher
Copyright Date: October 2007
Number of Pages: 304
Format: young adult, fiction
Reason for Reading: As an adolescent and a young adult, I dealt with a lot of heavy stuff that caused me to fall into deep depressions, wherein I contemplated suicide. I could relate to the character of Hannah. Obviously, I overcame my struggles as I am very much alive, thriving and well into adulthood. I was also curious to see how the subject matter was dealt with.
Clay Jensen arrives home from school one day to find an unmarked package on his doorstep. He opens it to find seven audiocassettes, each side labeled with a different number. He plays the first tape to discover the voice of Hannah Baker, a classmate who killed herself two weeks ago. She says there are thirteen reasons why she did it and he is one of them. He must listen to find out the role he played.
This was a powerfully written, haunting, sad tale. The novel is written in a dual narrative, intertwining Hannah and Clay’s voices. You get Clay’s reaction to Hannah’s words immediately. Sometimes I would have to re-read a few lines when the lines overlapped one by one, but overall it was a very effective way to tell the story.
At times it was agonizing to read, as Hannah’s story unfolded because everything you were learning about had already happened and you couldn’t stop it or help since Hannah was gone too. I felt with Clay as he was listening and responding, getting insight into certain events; I felt his anger at Hannah, I felt his remorse, I felt his sadness.
Asher captures the high school experience well. He illuminates the effect our words and actions have on other people, whether we realize it or not.
When I turned the final page, I can’t describe the emotion coursing through me. I was moved. It was very similar to the experience of watching a really good, powerful, moving play, the curtains have dropped and it’s over-there is a lot of emotion, no thought, just feeling whatever it was I just witnessed. I felt sad yet hopeful. I felt like crying but no tears came. I just sat with the book for several moments and let the book wash over me.
These are the kinds of books I like best. The ones that leave me with their ghost at the end. The ones that sit with me after the final page has been turned.