Monday, July 8, 2013

Be Still - A Review of Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

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Goodreads Blurb
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 have to start by saying that I listened to the audio book and it was fantastic.  The readers/actors were simply amazing.  I cannot even imagine reading the words after listening to Clay and Hannah's voices this way.

Clay Jensen receives a mysterious package with no return address.  Inside he finds cassette tapes with sides numbered one through thirteen.  As he listens to the first one, he is stunned to hear the voice of Hannah Baker, his crush and classmate who recently committed suicide.

On the tapes, Hannah attempts to explain why she killed herself.  She says that everyone that the people mentioned on the tapes are to pass the tapes on to the person whose name comes after their own.  So if Clay has the tapes, that means that he is mentioned, right?  But what did he do?  What could he or anyone  have possibly done that would cause a girl to want to end her life?  As painful as it is, Clay sets out to listen to each of the tapes.

I've heard some criticism about this book that say that Hannah is a whiner and that nothing she said on those tapes was big enough or bad enough to make a person want to end their life.  I strongly disagree with this assessment.  I may be nearing forty years-old, but I do remember being a teenager.  I remember how easy it was to make enemies.  How rumors could rip apart and destroy.

This is a profoundly heartbreaking story.  I completely felt Clay's unease and anxiety about when he would finally hear his own name mentioned on the tapes.  I was stunned by Hannah's sense of humor, even as she was recording what she knew would be her last words to people.  Her retribution for those who wronged her.

Mostly though, I'm thankful for Jay Asher wrapping it up in such a way that I felt the hope that he gave to Clay.

This is a lovely story written for people of all ages.

5 out of 5 stars.

I feel like this is a song that Clay would've wanted to dedicate to Hannah if he knew what was going on inside her head before she killed herself.

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