Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

April 18, 2010
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What if one day a mysterious package arrived on your doorstep? Just imagine. A shoebox-sized package is lying on your porch with no return address. You pick it up, take it inside, and set it on your kitchen counter. You take out a pair of scissors and run the blade carefully across the clear tape until the box opens. Inside the box, you find a roll of bubble-wrap, and you unroll it and find seven old-fashioned cassette tapes. All sides are marked with a blue number from one to thirteen. You remember the old stereo in your garage that plays cassette tapes. You gather the tapes and walk to the garage. Sitting down in front of the stereo, you insert the tape. Then, you press play… Music does not begin to play; instead, you hear her voice, Hannah’s voice. You sit there in shock, unable to believe what you are hearing because Hannah is dead.

Hannah Baker committed suicide, and all she left behind were seven tapes, thirteen reasons why she took her life. Clay Jensen, the person you were imaging to be earlier, was one of those reasons. He was one of thirteen people that somehow played a bigger part in Hannah’s life then they ever expected. Clay didn’t want to listen to all the tapes, but he had to for two reasons. First, some part of him had to know what he had done to Hannah, no matter how painful it was. Second, Hannah had made a second set of tapes, and if the tapes were not listened to and passed on, the second set would be released in a very public way. Clay had no choice but to listen to the tapes that contained the truth he never wanted to hear and the secrets that would change his life forever. Why did Hannah take her life? Who else will be on the tapes? Which tape will Clay be on? What did Clay do?

Jay Asher, author of Thirteen Reason Why, was inspired to make this book while taking an audio tour at a museum. He found it very eerie to hear the woman’s voice on the audio tour describe exactly what he was looking at without her being there. He also wanted to make a novel that would not be just another book on a shelf. He brings to light the complicated aftermath surrounding Hannah’s suicide in a compelling and moving way. Suicide is a tough and painful issue, but Asher makes the anti-suicide message very clear. This was Asher’s first novel, and it is already a New York Times Best Seller.

I highly recommend this book for many reasons. The story line is different than most teen novels today. It goes outside of “boy meets girl”. Also, the charters are three-dimensional and go outside the boxes of normal stereotypes. Asher’s use of honesty, emotion, and suspense make this novel unforgettable. Thirteen Reasons Why is addicting while you are reading it and keeps you thinking long after you are finished.

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