September 23, 2013

Review: Thirteen Reasons Why

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Release Date: October 18, 2007
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Book Description:

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen 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.

Through Hannah and Clay's dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.

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“He told me to see poetry as a puzzle. It’s up to the reader to decipher the code, or words, based on everything they know about life and emotions.” –Hanna Baker, Thirteen Reasons Why.

You’re wondering why I picked this quote aren’t you when you know there are probably more meaningful ones in this book. The truth is I think this quote sums up Hanna’s story in a nutshell. Hanna herself is a puzzle and throughout Thirteen Reasons Why we get to see that puzzle slowly but surely stumble together creating a picture that even though you don’t want to see, you can’t run away from. It’s staring you back in the face making you think, wonder, am I someone’s puzzle piece?

Every so often you find a book that changes your life, opens your eyes to things you might have otherwise missed and for me that book is Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. Never have I read a story so devastatingly honest and gut-wrenchingly tragic before and yet with all the truths and ugliness Asher engulfs the reader in, in the end I can see the tiniest sliver of hope shine through.
Page after page my heart clenched as I followed Clay’s journey. I cried with him, I got emotionally and physically sick with him and I even hit the “pause” on reading because I couldn’t stop the tears from pouring out of my eyes and dropping on my book. I’m not ashamed to admit I cried more reading this book than any other or that I felt Hanna’s story so deep within me that I started looking at how I saw people, my actions in the past and how they’ve affected the people I care about.

Thirteen Reasons Why is an emotionally draining and poignant story; it’s suspenseful, hypnotic, and completely unmatched in both plot and execution. I could not put it down even when I had to, the book stayed clutched in my hand as I imagined what was going to happen next. What was it that made Hanna think suicide was the only way out? What pushed her over the edge?

Asher is brilliant, I want to meet him and shake his hand for writing a story that deals with a subject we only hear about in passing. Hanna’s story is relatable and honest to the core until the very end. My heart went out to her and to Clay as he slide down an emotional rollercoaster with each new tape.

He wanted so badly to do it over, to understand, to be there, but in the end he couldn’t. All he could do was make a different choice next time and reach out if someone ever needed it. I know I’m rambling on, but it’s so hard to get my thoughts about Thirteen Reasons Why down on paper.

I don’t know why Thirteen Reasons Why is a banned book; I mean sure I can read the reasons why on the website, but anyone who has read this book can attest to the fact that it’s cathartic. It can make you see things you didn’t know were there. People of all ages especially teenagers are so susceptible to depression and suicide.

Maybe reading this book can help people see the warnings signs in their peers. I’ve never felt the way Hannah felt here, but I know a few people who have and even one girl who tried to take her life and thankfully failed.

Suicide isn’t a joke. It’s real and scary and Thirteen Reasons Why is a mirror into the world of someone who has lost the will to live. I will never forget this book and the way I felt while reading it. I would absolutely recommend this book. In a world where literature is fast approaching craptastic proportions, Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why gives me hope that there are still writers who have a story to tell and a message to leave.

♥ ♥ ♥

Author Bio:

Jay Asher was born in Arcadia, California on September 30, 1975. He grew up in a family that encouraged all of his interests, from playing the guitar to his writing. He attended Cuesta College right after graduating from high school. It was here where he wrote his first two children’s books for a class called Children’s Literature Appreciation. At this point in his life, he had decided he wanted to become an elementary school teacher.

He then transferred to California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo where he left his senior year in order to pursue his career as a serious writer. Throughout his life he worked in various establishments, including as a salesman in a shoe store and in libraries and bookstores. Many of his work experiences had an impact on some aspect of his writing.

He has published only one book to date, Thirteen Reasons Why, which was published in October 2007. He is currently working on his second Young Adult novel, and has written several picture books and screenplays. Thirteen Reasons Why has won several awards and has received five stars from Teen Book Review. It also has received high reviews from fellow authors such as Ellen Hopkins, Chris Crutcher, and Gordon Kormon.

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