Thirteen Reasons Why by JAY ASHER
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 of 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 (goodreads).
Jay Asher's beautifully crafted novels handles a very serious issue in a heart-breaking and thought provoking novel.
Clay Jensen finds a set of cassettes created by Hannah Baker, a fellow classmate who committed suicide. With each side of the cassette, Hannah explains how each person mentioned on the tape carries some responsibility with her death. Clay doesn't want to be haunted by his crush's accusations but he also cannot stop listening until he discovers how the people around him drove a young girl to kill herself.
Thirteen Reasons Why deals with a social issue that is affecting EVERYONE, teenage suicide. Given such a serious topic, I believe that the novels summary will capture the readers attention immediately, and Asher does a fantastic job at creating suspense and delivering just enough information to have the audience continuously turning pages. Obviously this book is meant to do more than entertain, and I believe that it raises attention to the seriousness of suicide with each of Hannah's reasons; sadly I cannot give anymore information without fear of giving away a serious plot device.
The novel is dominantly told from Clay's point of view but the audience is also haunted by Hannah's ghostly voice as she confesses her sorrows. Both characters were solid and Jay Asher does a wonderful job of making the audience feel everything that these two tormented students feel. While Hannah sounds remorseful and snarky at times, there are underlying cues of sorrow and she really treats these recordings as her personal diary so the audience can't help but feel susceptible to her raw emotions. It is also very interesting to see how Clay's opinion of his fellow classmates change once he learns that they are somehow connected to Hannah's suicide, even Clay himself changes after he delves into Hannah's world.
The writing style is very interesting and effective. Asher tells the story from Clay's point of view, but the recordings are written out as well so that Hannah's voice serves a purpose, separated from Clay's thoughts by the use of italics. I really enjoyed hearing Hannah explain her life to the audience, and it was very interesting to see the perspectives change. Hannah would reveal an important piece of information and the narrative would change to Clay so that he could comment on the information that he was just given. While I felt that this was very effective for the story, it also confused me at times. While I'm reading I do not always take the time to process that my eyes were switching from the standard font to italics so I would not know whose perspective I was experiencing.
Overall Thirteen Reasons Why is a touching and eye-opening novel. Asher's use of the first person makes this a more intimate experience and the plot has the audience on the edge of their seats, dying to know who else Hannah will name on her cassettes. Besides entertaining, the novel has a very serious message that will have the reader contemplating with the very last page.
I recommend this novel for everyone who has an interest in social issues, especially teen suicide.