Clay Jenkins returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers 13 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.
As with all my book discussions, there are SPOILERS below.
Let me say, first off, that I really enjoyed this book. The writing was sharp and vivid, the Voice was clear, the characters were strong and compelling, the subject is interesting, and the story held me in such a strong grip that I couldn’t put it down.
But I didn’t love it. It kills me to say this, but I didn’t. It wasn’t due to a lack of talent, because, clearly, this author has a lot of it.
There is a discussion on Verla Kay’s Blue Boards about this book, and many people had trouble sympathizing with Hannah, the girl who commits suicide. I, also, had trouble sympathizing with her, and, in the end, didn’t really like her. But I was okay with this, because to sympathize with her could be to think suicide is okay. Even viable. And I will never see it that way. Therefore, Hannah and I will never be able to connect, and that’s fine. If the author did this on purpose, then I am incomplete awe.
There was only one thing in this story that gave me pause. Unfortunately, it was a really big thing: the tapes. I just can’t accept that someone who is planning to commit suicide would go through so much effort to record *everything* that led to her decision. Tapes like these are more likely to be a tool for someone who is trying to sort through what’s happened to her, so she can move on. But it’s set up from the beginning that these tapes are an elaborate suicide note that only a select few should hear.
As much as I wanted to, I just couldn’t get past that. Suicide is about hopelessness. Would a hopeless, depressed person have enough energy and drive to not only go through the time and effort of creating the tapes, but also reliving everything that led to her decision? I don’t think so. To be fair, I’ve never been one to give up, so I’m only guessing here. But it makes sense to me.
Without the tapes, there is no story. But with the tapes, I couldn’t accept the story. You see my dilemma… Still, this is a great story that deals with important issues, and I do recommend reading it.
And there is one thing I know for sure – whatever Jay Asher writes in the future, I’m going to read it.