Monday Book Review: 13 Reasons Why January 18, 2010Posted by pupfiction in Book Reviews.
Tags: books, fictions, suicide, teens, YA
13 Reasons Why, Jay Asher’s sensational début (young adult) novel, is a worthy read for a number of reasons.
1. Asher makes why more important than how or when: Asher reminds me of Shakespeare in that he reveals in the first few lines of his work that the main character (Hannah) will die at the end of the story. Now, instead of the reader focusing on “will she or won’t she?” he can focus on why, and that is the meat of the story.
2. Subject matter: Teen suicide is a hot topic and although the entire book Hannah lists reasons why she killed herself, suicide takes a back seat to lying, rumors, ethics, standing up for yourself, speaking up, and reaching out to those around you. At times Hannah argues that she would still be alive if certain people hadn’t treated her so poorly, but in the end she realizes that she too could have been a much better person.
3. Format: The protagonist, Hannah, has left cassette tapes for the 13 people – her thirteen reasons why, to listen to after she has committed suicide. For the book, we listen to the tapes with Clay Jensen, a quiet kid who always had a crush on Hannah. Clay’s thoughts, memories, and journey dissect Hannah’s monologue, as he follows Hannah’s map around town, visiting the scenes of all her “reasons”. (Asher explains in the back of the book’s Q&A that he was inspired by a headset guided museum tour.)
Asher seamlessly weaves together the story of people all over Clay’s town, showing that the smallest gesture can snowball into a catastrophic one. His story begs us to examine our actions and be more aware of those around us. Besides the interesting format and important subject matter, this book is a page turner, as we yearn to find where Clay fits into the story. I recommend this for everyone because it will make you think about the repercussions of your actions (and give you nightmares about high school!).
Also check out the great interactive web site for this novel here.