Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

January 3, 2010
What if you got home from school and found a package on your doorstep, a package with no return address? Would you be excited at the prospect of something interesting inside? What if you opened it to find seven audio cassette tapes? Would you be curious about the music on them, about why someone would want you to listen to these outdated tapes? What if, when you played the tapes, you heard the voice of a girl you hadn't seen for awhile, a girl that you'd never see again...a girl who had committed suicide? Clay Jensen is faced with this when he lands himself on Hannah Baker's list of thirteen reasons why she chose to end her life.
When he presses play for the first time, he hears the voice of the girl he'd had a crush on, the girl he knew he had no chance with. When she begins talking, he thinks it has to be a joke. She says that there is a second set of tapes, a set that will be released if the first set doesn't get passed on to it's intended recipients, all of which played some part in Hannah's decision. Clay doesn't want to hear why he's on the list, but he knows that this is the closest he will ever be to Hannah again, so he continues to listen as, tape by tape, Hannah retraces everything that led to her choice in ending her life.
This chilling book is told from both Hannah and Clay's perspectives, and captures all the emotions perfectly. It's a tale of how one action can lead to another, which leads to another, and goes on and on until it's unbearable; it's a tale of the snowball effect.
The whole time I was reading this book, I felt sympathy for Hannah, for Clay, for everyone affected by Hannah's suicide. Jay Asher brings both sides of the story together, and ties up the emotions so perfectly, it's hard not to feel as if you knew Hannah personally.
I would absolutely recommend this to anyone and everyone. If you only have time to read one novel, make this that one novel.

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