Two weeks ago, Hannah Baker committed suicide. When Clay Jenkins gets home from school, he’s surprised by the shoebox full of audiocassettes waiting by the front door. He’s even more surprised when he plays the tapes and hears Hannah’s voice, explaining that there were thirteen reasons she chose to commit suicide- and if you’re one of the ones listening, you’re one of the reasons. He spends the night listening to the tapes as he walks through town, allowing Hannah’s story to guide him. He’s a bit confused as to why he is there. He doesn’t know what he did to Hannah; rather than tormenting her, he had a crush on her.
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher is the story of what might drive someone to commit suicide- and what the people who are left behind are feeling. And this is perhaps the most personal book review I will ever write. Because I am one of the people who was left behind.
I tend not to let my emotions run away with me when I read. But this book, more than any book I’ve read in recent memory, hit close to home. Too close to home. Because I know exactly what Clay was feeling. Two and a half years ago, my ex-boyfriend decided his life was no longer worth living. And he shot himself. It took me a week to cry. And once I started crying at his funeral, I didn’t think I would ever stop. It took me a long time to come to grips with it. And I’m still not sure that I have, because as I was reading this book, reading why someone would choose to end their life, all I could do is think of him. Hannah had thirteen reasons; I wonder what his reasons were. Was it one thing, or was it the culmination of years of problems? We weren’t close in the years before he died, but he was such an important part of my life and my history, that he will always be a part of me. And I think Clay will always feel that way about Hannah.
Thirteen Reasons Why is a powerful read. It rang so true for me, and it made me wonder whether Asher was a part of the club of those left behind once, too. I think it is deeply important that teenagers read this book. I think it’s important that everyone read this book, and take a few minutes to think about their actions. You may think your behavior is harmless, but you never know how what you do might affect someone else.
I know this review isn’t particularly coherent. But I wasn’t necessarily capable of coherent thought on finishing this book. It’s beautiful, and it’s devastating. I highly recommend it to everyone. For those who know someone who committed suicide, I recommend reading it with tissues handy.
Rating: 5 stars
Publisher, ISBN: Razorbill, 9781595141712