Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

I can't remember who made the comment recently that the reason they were reading all this new fantasy YA fiction was because it sort of let them relive their youth- or something to that effect. And yes, with books like Wicked Lovely, Twilight, the Mortal Instruments, and countless silly little romance stories it is very exciting to remember a time when there was a little bit more to hope for, more possibilities- when there was still magic.

That said, we can also remember another side to adolescence, the one that flashes through our minds when we jokingly say "If I could do it all over again? Hellllllll no!" We say that because we remember.

Whether it was your life, a friend's life or a random someone's life, we can all think of a person who's journey through high school was less than ideal. Face it, kids are stupid and mean- not trying to label all high school students, we were all there and we were all at some point, stupid and mean. It's just human nature, a phase and we grew out of it and some of us even turned out to resemble something remotely human :) (Still hoping I'm really a vampire or an adopted fairy princess)

It's simple to pinpoint the big things, major drama, catastrophe, truly shit times, but it's a little bit harder to remember the petty stuff, the stuff that most of us eventually got over (think of something here, something along the lines of I don't know, tripping and your books falling all over the hall while you struggle to keep your skirt down. Something comical now, and no big deal in the grand scheme of things but it sucked then). I am almost positive that every last person was unintentionally (or intentionally) cruel to a classmate at some point in our lives.

Now I'm fixing to write my summary of this book, and I'm going to give you the long and the short of what happened and it won't even be a spoiler since you go into this book knowing exactly what's going on- Hannah has committed suicide. She records 7 cassette tapes detailing 13 reasons why she got to that point and the people she feels played a part in getting her there. Each person on the tape has to listen to them, to find out why they are included. Our narrator Clay, has no idea why he's on the tape, but he'll listen, as will every last one of them.

This is a brilliant work. Hannah has so many reasons, some of them horrible, heart-wrenching, some of them simple and mostly meaningless on their own but when grouped together- well, they lead to her death. Do I agree that all of these should have been misconstrued and lumped with other reasons to end her life? No, but you're not suppose to. Reading them you think, "Why wouldn't you just get over that Hannah?" But that's the author's point- We don't know how things we do or say will affect other people. Little things that mean NOTHING to you can mean EVERYTHING to someone else. We can't judge or dictate the worth another person places on our words or actions.

It's a hard book to read. She's dead, it's not going to get any better and you have to live it knowing that.

I'm really surprised at some of the responses that reviewers have had to this book, and it's funny because it's an issue that Hannah herself addressed and that is people's reaction to suicide. I read so many reviews where people blamed Hannah and disregarded the book because they felt it presented suicide as an only option for some. It's very interesting.

Everyone needs to read this book. Everyone. I'm sorry if I sound a little preachy here and please don't think I'm lecturing, these are just my book thoughts but no one can read this book and not walk away learning something. It's a good book hangover waiting to happen, but you won't miss it and you won't want to revisit.

7 thoughts?:

Eli May 30, 2009 at 3:04 AM  

Very interesting review. I think I may look more into this book, sounds intriguing. I love the intro before your review-- It was different then most reviews.

Ladybug May 30, 2009 at 7:22 AM  

This book is already on my wish list :) And your review just made the wish stronger!

I have an award waiting for you.

Liyana May 30, 2009 at 11:46 AM  

Reading Hannah's story affected me so much. In a sense, it made me never want to contemplate suicide. And right now as an 18 year old, I don't think I want to go back to my tweenage years. Girls (including me) then are vicious! Testing out their claws, brr.

Oh, I'm a new follower. I love your reviews!

lifeafterjane May 30, 2009 at 12:50 PM  

Liyana- Hannah's story was so hard to read! It's tough starting a book that you know will never get any better but it did exactly what it was suppose to do which was make us think about our own lives and actions.

Eli- read it! I wish it was required reading or something. Yes there are some less than pretty things in it but they are REAL things that can't be ignored.

Thanks for following. I lurve fellow book blog stalkers!

Eli May 30, 2009 at 12:57 PM  

I think I will read it-- Oh, and I'm following as well! :)

Shelley/Book Fanatic May 30, 2009 at 1:21 PM  

When I started reading this, I thought Hanna was just going to blame all these people for her suicide but she didn't really. She sort of held a mirror in front of them and made them look at themselves and their actions. All these events led her to the point of suicide but she took responsibility for actually doing it.

This book made me think about how my actions and words effect other people. I think that was the real message of this book. not the suicide.

lifeafterjane May 30, 2009 at 1:56 PM  

Eli- Thank you!

Shelley- You're absolutely right and that's exactly what I did while reading it. I thought about things from my past that I don't think I have ever revisited and that was the book's purpose.

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