Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

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 And now, for something completely different…

After my last read, which couldn’t have been lighter or fluffier, this book was…tough.  If this book was a carnival ride, it would most definitely be a roller coaster.

And I have some seriously mixed feelings about this book.  Let me start off by saying, I was totally hooked on this book.  And I LOVE IT that books like this are being published for teens.  I’ve heard the arguments that books such as this are too dark, too serious, too heavy, etc.  I couldn’t disagree more.  Books like this should be read, and discussed, and thought about long after they are read.

Hannah has decided to take her own life.  And she’s left behind a series of cassette tapes that describe her reasons why, which are to be passed along from one person to the next.  Clay, our narrator, is one of the thirteen.

What I liked

Despite the fact that this is most definitely an “issues” book, I didn’t feel, as a reader, that I was hit over the head with a message.  There wasn’t the preachy tone that can sometimes come with the “issues” books.  I really appreciated that.  For me, there is nothing worse than an Aesop’s fable-type moral that is thrust down your throat in the last few pages.

What I didn’t like

Okay, maybe this is just me, but I felt more sympathy for Clay as I was reading this than I did for Hannah.  And I’ve spent some time trying to figure out why, because Hannah should be by far the more sympathetic character.  But I felt like Clay was this innocent bystander, who really cared about Hannah, and would have helped her if he had only known that she needed help.  And then he’s given this unthinkably horrible set of tapes, and he didn’t do anything wrong!!  Sigh.  My heart just breaks for Clay.

Again, this could be me, but…Hannah’s reasons.  Okay, so she’s the new girl in town.  And then rumors start circulating about her, and things kind of snowball from there, and yes, her life is pretty rough.  But, I ultimately didn’t feel as though any of the reasons she gave, even when taken into consideration as a whole, should have really added up to suicide.  I’ve read books where a lot worse things happen to the characters, and they’re resilient and self-reliant, and Hannah just wasn’t.  And she wasn’t because of a very good reason – she was depressed.  Hannah wasn’t a weak character, she was a depressed character.  But I feel like that wasn’t made clear enough.  Maybe because Hannah is telling her story in her own words, and she isn’t even really aware of how depressed she is?  I don’t know.  But I feel like the warning signs or indications that someone is potentially suicidal could have been more overt.

Would I recommend it?

Yes, yes, yes.  This is a book that should be on everyone’s must-read lists.

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