Thirteen Reasons Why - Jay Asher

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.

It's a pretty morbid premise for a young adult novel: Clay Jensen, high school senior, gets a package containing cassette tapes of his classmate Hannah Baker who recently committed suicide. There are seven tapes with the sides labeled one through thirteen, each side dealing with one of her "thirteen reasons why," and there's a map of town with significant locations marked on it. Each person is instructed to listen to the tapes and then pass them along to the next person on the list. If not, Hannah warns, there is a second set of tapes which will be released to the public.

The book is presented as Clay's thoughts as he listens to the tapes, alternating between his own narration and Hannah's voice on the tapes. It's a clever way to do it, because there are two stories going on: Hannah's vignettes about the past few years, and Clay's actions right now.

Clay, who had a crush on Hannah since freshman year, has no idea why he received the tapes. Like most of the others on the tapes, he didn't feel like he did anything wrong to Hannah. But as he listens, he realizes the way little things add up and snowball, the way one rumor can create an undeserved reputation which then colors a person's entire life.

It's a compelling book which I found hard to put down despite the unpleasant subject matter. It's aimed at high schoolers and I don't know how they would react to it but possibly it would make them think a little more about how they treat others. There are a few quibbles I had about the book but I don't want to give away too much of the plot.

Fed to jonathan's brain | January 10, 2009 | Comments (0)


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