13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher

December 15, 2009
By Technetium SILVER, Reynoldsburg, Ohio
Technetium SILVER, Reynoldsburg, Ohio
5 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Favorite Quote:
Those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.

I found 13 Reasons Why to be the best book I have read for my Contemporary Literature class since I started it in August. Why? It details reasons for a suicide that are seemingly small and irrelevant, but build up into a much larger picture. It wasn’t because of any one person that Hannah Baker killed herself, but it was the small betrayals and meanness on the part of everyone. It’s scary, knowing that you could be causing a suicide for these reasons, or at least making someone feel really depressed, without ever knowing it or having any idea what you’ve done.
The story begins with Clay, a high school freshman, receiving an unmarked box addressed to him. Inside the box, he finds a number of actual audiotapes, each labeled in a certain order.
When he starts to listen to them, he hears the voice of Hannah Baker, who committed suicide a couple days ago. The tapes detail why life became unbearable and who is responsible for it. It was not one little thing-rather, many people with their own little betrayals, did this to her. The tapes lead Clay all over town, following up forgotten loose ends, and he makes several discoveries of his own. Like what really happened in a tragic car crash.
This book’s characters are believable, except for Clay’s mom, who is too much of a reality denier about her son to be realistic. She actually believes, or at least makes herself believe, that he is traipsing all over town for a project. But I’m getting hung up on the side issues. I think Clay’s responses to what Hannah said and what she herself said on the tapes—not wanting to come out and say “suicide” until the very end, for example, really got to me—is some of the best constructed character thinking I’ve read. Of course, it could simply be that I was too overwhelmed by the emotion in the story to be very discriminating about the other elements, but if the book can do that, it’s good both for reading and a critic regardless of anything else.
13 Reasons Why is the only book I’ve read for my ContLit class that even approaches being one for the ages. It’s a great book.

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