Thirteen Reasons Why
by Jay Asher
2007 Penguin Books
I read an article about reader’s reactions to Thirteen Reasons Why a couple of months ago and decided I wanted to read it. I almost hate to label it as such, but this is an “important” book. It is a young adult novel that can make young people think a little more about how they treat others.
Clay Jensen, a quiet high school student, gets home from school one day to find a package with no return address on his doorstep. When he opens it, he discovers a shoebox containing 7 cassette tapes recorded by Hannah, a classmate and girl he had a crush on, who recently committed suicide. The instructions on the tapes are to listen to them and then send them on to the next person on the tapes. One the side of each tape, Hannah details what one person did that contributed to her eventual suicide. Some of the acts are horrible and others are where someone didn’t act on something that they saw or heard, but they all pushed her one step closer.
The whole book consists of Clay listening to the tapes and his reactions to them. The whole book makes you feel uncomfortable, partly because of the subject matter, and partly through the voyeuristic way the story is told. Despite this, I read it quickly, not able to put it down. The website for the book has over 13000 comments from readers, mostly teens, and it is reassuring to read how this book affected them.