Synopsis: Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier. On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out how he made the list. Through Hannah and Clay’s dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.
Whenever I go to the mall alone, the only place that remains constant for me to go to is a bookstore. Being the bookworm that I am, I always like to check out what’s the latest on the best-seller list. Yesterday, I did my usual routine.
And even though I still have a couple of books lined up for me to read, I can’t help but pick up an interesting book to add to my to-read list. Anyway, I spent some time looking through the best-seller display and saw some really interesting titles, but my budget is limited for a single less-than-500-bucks book so I really wanted to get a good one.
Anyway, to cut the story short, I found Thirteen Reasons Why, not on the best-seller display, but on the normal young-adult shelf of Powerbooks. The book cover really intrigued me so I picked up my Blackberry and did a quick Google on the title. Apparently, this was on the NY Times best-seller list in 2009 and a movie about it is on the way with Selena Gomez as the lead character! Interesting. So I bought a copy.
First of all, I really don’t know why I have read about this book just now. Seriously, I wanted to kick myself esp when I saw that this book was released in 2007! Where was I the whole time?? Anyway, I am glad I finally did. This book made an impact on me and I am so grateful to have such a meaningful and inspiring read. Jay Asher did a wonderful job in telling a story so powerful that it will really make anyone reflect on the way they treat others.
In this book, the author presents the dark side of teen life: sex, underage drinking, rumors, bullying, absent parents and the mean spirit that surrounds the general high school student body. Though it may sound as a chick flick for some of you, the book actually digs deep into all those and how it all played out to the demise of our protagonist, Hannah Baker. And even though this is a story about teen suicide, it centers around the fact that what we do or don’t do, affects other people’s lives. Hannah warns that we must “be careful how you treat people,” and that inaction — whether to stop a crime or a rumor or talk to a troubled friend — can be just as damaging as deliberately inflicting pain.
Reading the book made me so guilty about how I was back in high school (aka bully/half-bitch) and I suddenly prayed I didn’t cause anyone serious mental depression (I gulped hard while reading Courtney Crimsen’s story). What if there was a Hannah Baker in my class back then? What if I unconciously did something to someone that caused them pain? I will never forgive myself. But hey, I think I was not that bad. People generally liked me back then. *cross-fingers*
Anyway, it didn’t take me long to love Clay Jensen’s character. He’s one of the 13 people that played a part in Hannah’s death and we listen to the tapes through his ears. The story is very fast-paced and oftentimes I found myself holding my breath whenever Clay flips through the cassette to introduce the new person responsible for Hannah’s death. The book is impossible to put down, I tell you.
Thirteen Reasons Why is a devastating story about depression caused by abuse, bullying and lack of support that is often experienced by teens nowadays. I have heard several real-life stories about teen suicide due to loneliness and it is saddening to realize that we could’ve done something to help them. It highlights the importance of how “everything affects everything” and that every little thing we do has a snowball effect.
This book has inspired me to be cautious about how I treat people and how my words and actions influence the people around me. The message is pretty simple: Do not wait for people to come to you for help. Open your eyes and be very wary of your actions. And I fully intend to do that moving forward.
I absolutely recommend this book to teens and adults alike. A book worthy of analysis and discussion. Well done, Jay Asher.