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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Thirteen Reasons Why

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Reason for Reading: YA Reading Challenge
Rating: 4/5

Clay Jensen is surprised to find a package left at his house one evening. Inside, he finds a series of audio tapes, each side numbered, up to 13. When he pops one in to his tape player, he is horrified to ear the voice of Hannah Baker, a classmate who committed suicide a few days ago.

On the tapes, Hannah chronicles her story. What happened to lead up to her making the final decision to end her life. What people did to her, without thinking. How she was got a reputation based on rumors.

This is not an easy book to read. High school can be a cruel place, and this book shows the ugly side of it. Hannah innocently kisses a boy in the park and when he starts bragging about it at school, enlarging the story a bit, a reputation develops around her.

There is an intensity to this story that makes it hard to put down. Even though we've established from the beginning that Hannah is dead, as you race through each chapter, you want desperately to think that the outcome might actually be different.

I felt for Hannah as I was reading this. She had a lot on her plate, and with each story, we see how she felt more and more ostracized and picked on. By the time I was finished with the book, though, I was mad at Hannah for giving up on herself. She had some real sucky stuff happen, but I wanted to give her the lecture that she would graduate from high school eventually and all the petty stuff would get better. Whenever I have a strong emotional reaction like that though, it means that the book got to me somehow. And this one does get under your skin.

I think it is interesting to note what inspired this book. According to the author bio on the inside cover of this book, Asher was inspired to write this book while listening to an audio tour at a museum, struck by "the eeriness of the voice in his ear-a woman who described exactly what he was looking at but wasn't there."

This book is recommended for anyone who survived or is surviving high school.

Other Reviews:
Bottle of Shine
A Striped Armchair
Reading Room
Thoughts of Joy
The Hidden Side of a Leaf

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think it's really easy to get angry at Hannah, knowing what we know about how life improves. The problem is we're cursed with the actuality of everything getting better and people stuck in such serious depressions don't have the context. I still wonder at her reasoning, though, weeks after finishing the book. Was it what was done to her or what she was a party to that led to her suicide?

It really frustrates me that there's no answer to that, which is probably what Asher was going for. Good old emotional responses! My nemesis!