“Clay Jensen doesn’t want anything to do with the tapes Hannah Baker made. Hannah is dead. Her secrets should be buried with her.
Then Hannah’s voice tells Clay that his name is on her tapes–and that he is, in some way, responsible for her death.
All through the night, Clay keeps listening. He follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his small town…
…and what he discovers changes his life forever.”
This book burned slow for me. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But it’s not a good thing either. You see, if I hadn’t gotten sick, I probably wouldn’t have had the time (and the boredom) to really read this book.
Before you start thinking that I didn’t like the book, let me make it clear: I did. In fact, by the last page, I’m pretty sure I was already loving it. But it didn’t hook me right away. And that’s pretty much my problem with it for the first chapter. And I think I know why.
You see, our main character Clay, he doesn’t want to listen to Hannah’s tapes. As you can see in the book synopsis. He’s afraid of what he’s going to find. And until the point when his interest is piqued enough that he wants to listen to the tapes, we as readers are also of two minds. Do we want to know what’s inside the tapes? But if our vessel, the character who will accompany our journey is as unwilling as Clay, then it’s not going to be a fun ride.
Thankfully, after a number of pages mulling it over, Clay does finally find it in himself to make a decision: to continue listening. If only for fear.
It is this fear that carries us through most of the book. The fear of what Clay will find out about the tapes. And as things worsen for Hannah in her accounts of what happened in her life, of what led to her death, we begin to fear too–to doubt if Clay is such an upstanding character that we’d want to root for in the end.
I must say it was almost a disappointment when he does turn out to be such a character. But it’s not. Because by then, you understand why he had to be one.
Thirteen Reasons Why is not the story of Clay Jensen, but it also is. It’s the story of possibilities that never were, of almosts, of why-nots, of why-nows. It’s the story of a girl, of many girls, of boys, of everyone who had to go through life with so many rejections, so many users, so many untrustworthy people. It’s the story of Hannah Baker. It’s the story of how a person can lose hope in humanity.
And how, even when the right person comes along and says the right words, it might still be too late.
Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why is one of the most powerful books I’ve read about suicide. About the reasons, without saying they are the be-all and end-all. About the aftermath, the blame, the guilt. About the endless questions, the self-doubt.
The book is not claiming to be the be-all and end-all of suicide books. And that’s what makes it more powerful. Because it’s just one thread. It’s just one example. It doesn’t cram it all in. And that makes it more real.
But what makes me love the book isn’t so much the way of writing, the character development, or what-not. It’s the content. It forces you to reevaluate your own relationships. Your own weaknesses. Your own need.
Because sometimes, when you’re trying so hard to be strong for other people, when you’re trying hard to be unaffected, you forget that you can still get hurt too. And sometimes, you only realize you’re beyond repair when you’ve already gone too far.
Thirteen Reasons Why is a book I would recommend to be read by everyone. Of any age. But I think schools, especially high schools, would benefit from having their students read this.