“Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers 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.”
Jay Asher stated that the idea for his debut novel began to grow while he was listening to audiotapes. This has been stuck with me since I read it, as I find the idea of a voice, a fragment of a person, stuck in time, forever a memory, and an echo to anyone who will listen, very beautiful, haunting indeed, and bittersweet. This is exceptionally true in Hannah Baker’s case, in my opinion. These recordings are remnants of her soul, echoes from beyond the grave…they are reminders of the best and worst memories Hannah experienced leading up to her death. With that said, let’s talk about the reasons…the 13 reasons why Hannah killed herself.
Well, okay, I’m not going to spoil anything for anyone, but, rather, I want to talk about what I feel is necessary to be fully engaged in this book. You, dear reader, need to take a step back and, while still forming your own opinions and such in the back of your mind, tap into Hannah Baker. Of all the (mostly 1-3 star) reviews I’ve seen of this, there’s not a single one that didn’t at least mention, if only in a footnote of sorts, that Hannah’s reasons are ridiculous, no reason at all to commit suicide, etc. Folks, I cannot stress this enough, so listen up: do not look at this through your eyes. Do not go through the motions and assume that her reasons will make sense to you! Quite frankly, it doesn’t matter that you don’t think her reasons were enough, not in my mind. If you do not tap into her as she tells her story, as she explains the last impressions made upon her, than perhaps you’re just wasting your time. To put a finer point on it…this is not about you, me, or anything/anyone else! This is about Hannah Baker and her reasons. Tap into her, allow her echoes to fill your soul, and, for fuck’s sake, see through her eyes. It will help you understand a bit better. It will help you grow. I don’t think you’ll ever see the world the same…
Ah, I suppose I should include this so that my review isn’t just me screaming at people… Asher has done a magnificent job of combining descriptions of places, people, and events; I had no trouble at all seeing every single detail in my mind…just as I didn’t have a problem feeling even the slightest prick. This is a very emotional novel, and it left me feeling nothing short of raw. The pain (AKA most of the novel), the anger, guilt, the sparse moments of joy…everything came in tidal waves…I did not have to search for it.
If you’ve read it, I’d love to hear your thoughts! If you have not, I strongly recommend that you do so. Sooner rather than later. This is an incredible debut, and it’s an outstanding novel in general. Read it, reread it, let it suck you in and rip you apart. It’s a very powerful tale, and I’m so glad I read it.
Well done, Jay Asher. You, sir, have a gift, and I truly hope you continue to wield it!
I rate 13 Reasons Why 4.5 stars!
*Two things… I read this in 2013, but, despite my efforts, could not post my review any earlier than today. Also, it should be noted that Hannah’s tapes can be found here. I just discovered this today, and my breath hitched in my throat. I know what I’m doing tonight!*
Happy New Year!