Thursday, November 13, 2014

Thirteen Reasons Why

Asher, Jay. 2007. THIRTEEN REASONS WHY. New York: Peguin Young Readers.

Clay Jensen finds a package on his front porch. He opens it to find a map and seven cassette tapes. He pops one in an old cassette player and hears the voice of Hannah Baker. Hannah committed suicide two weeks ago, and these tapes she left behind explain what happened to her. "I hope you're ready, because I'm about to tell you the story of my life. More specifically, why my life ended. And if you're listening to these tapes, you're one of the reasons why."

Soon Clay goes over to his acquaintance Tony's house, where he steals an old cassette walkman to listen to the rest of the tapes. The walkman will let him go from place to place that Hannah points out on the map.  So he spends all night walking, riding a bus, and riding with Tony to visit the places Hannah mentions and listen to her story unfold. 

A new student at the high school, Hannah finds herself the victim of rumors. Rumors that are far from true, but that she can see everyone else around her believes. These affect her relationships with other people and how other people choose to treat her. Clay has a huge crush on Hannah, but he's afraid to talk to her or ask her out because of her reputation.

This book is very suspenseful and very sad. I didn't know what was going to happen and how all of the people in the book were going to all fit together.  The structure of Thirteen Reasons Why was really interesting and unique. Instead of switching point of view and narrator with the beginning of each chapter, Hannah and Clay are narrating at the same time. While he listens to Hannah's voice on the tapes, we get to hear Clay's thoughts and reactions to her story.

As the author says in a Q&A at the end of the book, he did have a message in mind while writing this book. Our actions and words may have more of an impact on others than we ever realize. I cringed when I read this book, and it made me uncomfortable. I remember being an awkward teenager myself, and some of the actions of other characters in the book, the people on Hannah's list, made me sad. I wished Hannah had a best friend or a trusted teacher, or her mom she could have talked to. The story in this book didn't have to end this way.

Thirteen Reasons Why is a book I'll only recommend for 8th graders, because of the subject matter and some of the content. It was a good book, but not an easy book to read at all. 

If you are feeling sad, or if you have a friend who is sad and says things that worry you, please get them help. This school is full of adults who will help you and keep things confidential.

Until next time,
Mrs. Cox

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