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Book Review: Thirteen Reasons Why

I had first heard about this young adult novel in a fairly recent issue of Entertainment Weekly. I thought the format of it alone seemed interesting enough to give it a shot and so last night I started reading it.

Clay Jensen has just received a package containing 7 cassette tapes- there’s no return address on the package and no note. Intrigued about what it contained, he starts to play the first tape and hears the voice of Hannah Baker- a girl from school that had committed suicide just weeks ago.

Hannah explains that the tapes contains the reasons why she killed herself and for each reason, there’s a person responsible.

Hannah was starting her freshman year of high school in a new town, but one event was the start of how low it got for her. Like every high school, there’s going to be rumors made about someone- whether you choose to believe them is up to you. Hannah had a rumor spread about her and that lead to others acting on them, giving her a reputation she didn’t deserve.

You follow Clay in his listening journey through the tapes and through the small town- like an audio tour. Clay doesn’t know how he’s part of her list or when he’ll come up in the tapes, but he listens to them out of respect to Hannah- a classmate and crush.

By the time all 13 reasons are through, you wonder if it was worth dying over. I read some of the reviews on goodreads and some said that it was unbelievable that someone would kill themselves over these reasons. Yes, if you look at one reason alone you might say it’s silly to get all worked up over, but high school is a rough place and kids can be cruel.

Clay would say Hannah gave up too easily- that she should’ve come to him for help, but she just didn’t ask. In a way it seemed like he blamed her for not asking for help sooner. But anyone that’s been down the same dark road as Hannah, knows that admitting to yourself that you need help is harder than asking. And if you get the strength to finally ask for help, it might be too late.

I identified with Hannah because I went through a depressed phase during high school and a few years afterwards. I had friends, but I never fully trusted any of them. I kept my distance but acted like nothing was wrong. I thought about suicide. I even saw a psychologist (though it was only 2 sessions). A series of unfortunate events occurred throughout the years and even with all the pain I was feeling, I held on to that little bit of hope that things would get better.

That little bit of hope that Clay wished Hannah had held on to.

This book is a good reminder about how your actions can effect someone- even a good action like merely saying “hello” can brighten up someone’s day and possibly change the way they look at life.

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Rating: 5/5 stars

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