Saturday, December 20, 2014

Review: "Thirteen Reasons Why" by Jay Asher

Title: Thirteen Reasons Why
Author: Jay Asher
Genre: YA Contemporary
Published: October 18, 2007

Pages: 304


Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen 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.

I was unsure about this contemporary YA fiction. My trepidation centered  mostly in the fact that I prefer most of my books to exist somewhere betwixt  "Fantastical Non-Realism" and "Slightly Less Fantastical Non-Realism", marginally closer to the extreme, and in no way closer to reality than yelling distance.

I 'd heard plenty about this moving, controversial, and potentially traumatizing book, but had no desire to read it, Thank You Very Much. The change came about as the result of extreme boredom. One day of standing in for someone behind a silent circulation desk can really change a girl. Luckily there was a rack of unshelved books available to keep me company during the 100 years (seemingly) of solitude.

I wasn't even planning on checking it out and taking it home. I just wanted something to skim through while I waited for the never-ending shift to come to a close. Surprise surprise when I'd read the first two chapters and couldn't put it down. I checked it out and finished it that night.

It was amazing how this author was able to tell such a heartbreaking story without completely destroying the reader's emotions. Was it a depressing story? Yes. Was I depressed after reading it? Startlingly, no. Yes, I felt a sense of deep sadness, knowing that there are plenty of people out there who are struggling and feel that there's nothing worth continuing to live for. But though the story was focused around Hannah Baker and the last few days of her life, it was really about Clay and the rest of his.

Hannah Baker's story is over, but Clay and all of the other characters involved are poised at the edge of  monumental discovery,  forced to come to terms with themselves and make decisions for how they will change and who they will become.

Moving, poignant, and meaningful, this book will demand readers to consider uncomfortable yet important questions about how they treat others and how they affect the world around them. As I expected, I cried while reading this, and felt a bit worn out by the time I'd actually closed the cover. It's an emotional read asking weighty and necessary questions.

By the end of this story that deep, aching sadness was still there. Yet I was uplifted somehow by the hope that Clay offered in the final pages with his decision and willingness to turn to someone hurting and reach out. I think that was the entire point, and it was delivered well.

I recommend this book to anyone with the ability to read.

Auggie is the 28 year old whirlwind owner of Auggie-Talk, a part-time Reference Librarian with a degree in Anthropology and a nearly completed Masters in Library Science. A bibliobibuli by nature and a (potentially obsessive) lover of Diana Wynne Jones and Neil Gaiman. One can normally find Auggie neck deep in reading, writing, or daydreaming (sometimes all three at once).  She's also been known to drink too much caffeine and eat too many lemon flavored sweets.

1 comment:

  1. This book is really recommended to EVERYONE. I loved Thirteen Reasons Why, too and this book reminds me to always be careful of how I treat the people around me, whether I know them or not.

    Julie @ Books and Insomnia