Book Review: Thirteen Reasons by Jay Asher (5/5)

Genre: YA Fiction

Copyright: 2007

This book follows Clay as he listens to a series of audio cassettes recorded by the late Hannah Baker, who killed herself two weeks earlier. He follows her story of what caused her, and more importantly, who caused her to go down the road of suicide.

Yeah, we’ve all been hearing about this book since Netflix turned it into a series. I knew the library had a copy, but I’d pushed it off because I didn’t want to listen to some overdramatic teenage girl complain and blame her problems on everyone else.

Oh, my, lands, this book was amazing. I couldn’t put it down. I started reading it at about ten this morning. It’s now nine thirty. I have never read a book within a single day. I would finish a chapter, leave the room to do something else, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I had to know what happened. I had to know all of Hannah’s reasons.

Some have criticized that Asher “glamorized” teen suicide. After reading this book, I don’t think so. He shows Hannah’s steps to where she ended up, emotionally. For a male author, he did a remarkable job at female reaction and emotion. In the “extras” of the book, he gives credit to the women in his life who he consulted.

This book isn’t just about a girl who kills herself and blames others. She blames herself, too. She admits to choosing suicide, and once she made up her mind, no one could convince her otherwise. She made mistakes while asking for help – she never fully asked. She hinted that she needed up, but often ended up pushing people away. She showed the signs of suicide, all of them, but no noticed. No one took the time to stop and notice, and those that tried were pushed away.

Everyone in this book makes mistakes. Those mistakes aren’t apparent until they’re standing in the aftermath. That’s life, for you. We don’t know where we went wrong, until it’s blaringly obvious.

This book is about being aware of how we treat others. Even the slightest little thing, which to us might seem insignificant, might be the last straw to someone else. It’s about doing something, standing up, and doing what’s right, even when it’s the unpopular thing to do. Hannah wanted to call the police to report the knocked-down stop sign, but she didn’t, and as a result, a student dies in a crash.

It’s about being aware of your actions and that your actions have repercussions. Hannah’s story snowballed from one seemingly tiny thing and it eventually grew to take her life. It’s about how rumors and gossip affect people. It’s about being honest and saying what you mean. It’s about realizing that our words and actions affect people more than we realize.

Hannah’s reputation grew because of untrue rumors. People talked about her, saying nasty things, which didn’t happen, and no one bothered to find out the truth.

It’s also frightening that I saw myself in Hannah. I’ve felt like she felt. I, however, am too stubborn to admit defeat and give up so easily. I know that when I’m feeling the worst, I have people I can rely on completely.

This book was quick-paced. It never slowed down. There was never a stop where I wanted to skip ahead. The prose was great. It read like butter, smooth.

I worried about this rape scene I’d heard about. I greatly dislike rape scenes. So, I was trepidations about this book because of that, too. Well, to the girls out there that feel the same way, I’ll give you some relief: the rape scene isn’t horrible. I mean, it’s rape, but it’s not vivid or descriptive. It’s there and obvious, but not glorified and pulse-quickening in that way that makes you want to run around the block and go buy pepper spray.

This book is also a great lesson in dual narrators. Clay is the main narrator, and Hannah is the secondary narrator. Both speak in first person. The difference is that Clay’s narration is in normal font whereas Hannah’s is italicized. They are both speaking within a chapter, side by side sometimes, and the way the story was laid out with them both adding bits and pieces was amazing.

I gave Thirteen Reasons a 5/5 for all the reasons mentioned above. Everything about this book is gold.

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