Friday, May 27, 2011

Thirteen Reasons Why

Thirteen Reasons Why
Jay Asher
288 pages
Publisher: Razorbill

You can read the Goodreads summary here.

When we start reading Thirteen Reasons Why we already know the main character is dead.  Hannah Baker committed suicide, but before she did she recorded thirteen sides of cassette tape and arrange for them to be mailed to thirteen different people - the people she felt most contributed to her decision to die. When Clay gets the tapes he doesn't understand why he's on the list, until he listens to all of them that night.

Fact: The shorter the suicide note, the more likely the person writing it is actually going to go through with it.  So the fact that Hannah Baker took the time to record thirteen sides of tape with her recorded suicide note makes this story highly improbable.  But once I got over that, it was an amazing story to read.  The web of characters was so well thought out, I couldn't believe the author was able to create such depth.  I enjoyed every single chapter, learning about all the factors that contributed to Hannah's depression.

How interesting, also, that the author of this novel is a man!  How does a man get into the psyche of a teenage girl so well?  Maybe I don't want to know, but you have to give him props for that.

This was obviously not a happy book, but I think any book that keeps me up until two a.m. reading straight through and then keeps me awake after to think about it is worthy of stars.  I waffled between four and five stars, five because it made me really think, and four because I feel like I didn't understand enough about Hannah's life to justify her suicide.  She goes through things that a lot of high school girls go through, so why did she feel she needed to end her life over it?  I couldn't quite grasp why - it was just out of reach.  In the end, it gets four stars from me.

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