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.
This is a book that will stay with me for a long time, yet I didn’t love it.
I’d been meaning to read this book for a long time, but just never got round to it, then the show came on netflix.
The show broke me. As a parent, I am petrified of my kids (one of whom is 12 and in secondary school) not being open and honest with me about both the good and bad things in their lives. How can I help them if I don’t know what’s happening? In the show, Hannah’s parents (and Clay’s to a certain extent) are completely oblivious to what is going on with their kids beyond the small snippets they are fed, so Hannah’s suicide is a huge shock for all of them.
Watching Clay listen to the taps and slowly begin to lose his mind in guilt and uncertainty is heart breaking, almost as much as what Hannah suffered – in a weird way. This is a kid who never really did anything to anyone, got along with most people, and seemed to be a pretty likeable guy; yet here he is on a list of people Hannah blames.
In the book, Clay only takes a night to list to the tapes and the reader isn’t privvy to what is happening with parents or the others mentioned on the tapes. If I had read the book before the show, I don’t think that would have bothered me, but having seen how well the show rounded out these other characters mentioned in the book, reading felt a little 2 dimensional to me.
While Asher has dealt with such a touchy subject in a wonderfully sensitive way, he could have easily explored the repercussions more – the way the show did.
There are so many questions left to be answered it may leave the reader frustrated, but isn’t that the case when someone makes the choice of suicide? Aren’t those left behind plagued with questions, even if they know ‘why’?