Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher


Thirteen Reasons Why

■Synopsis (from the back cover)

Clay Jensen returns home to find a strange package with his name on it.
Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker – his classmate and first love – who committed suicide two weeks earlier.

Hannah’s voice explains there are thirteen reasons why she killed herself. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.

All through the night, Clay keeps listening – and what he discovers changes his life…



This book didn’t blow me away as much as I hoped it would.
I did enjoy the reading experience and found it a quick read, but it just didn’t completely click with me.

In fact, I’m still indecisive about this book; while I don’t particularly adore this book, I still find this very haunting; it definitely left a vague, yet lasting impression on me.

This may be a kind of book that one may not particularly love yet can’t help thinking about. That’s exactly what’s happening to me, to be honest.

Like I said, this is a quick, engaging read. In each chapter with the number of cassette tapes you’re on – you’ll listen to Hannah narrating her side of the story as to what led her to taking her own life. Personally, I found it pretty voyeuristic.
There are thirteen reasons why she killed herself and are thirteen people on the list to whom the cassette tapes will be passed on.
Which means, each and every one of them will be listening to what each of them on the list had done to Hannah – in detail and learning that it was actually them who pushed Hannah over the edge – in a hard way.
With regard to this, I think it’s very clever and engaging, but at the same time, it comes across a bit too vindictive and venomous.

As for the writing style, it actually took me a while to get used to.
While the story is basically narrated in the first person -from Clay Jensen’s perspective, since we are supposed to be listening to Hannah’s soliloquy throughout the thirteen cassette tapes, namely thirteen chapters, there’s a constant back and forth between Hannah’s narration and Clay’s inner thoughts; I personally found this pretty distracting and I actually had to do a lot of re-read to figure out which perspective I was on.

I know that I’m digressing and it may be only me who feels this way, but Clay’s teenage angst and wandering around the town not being inclined to go home kind of reminded me of Haulden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye.
I don’t know why, but it just did. Please share your thoughts if you felt the same way.

Story-wise, I personally didn’t find the respective thirteen reasons that drove Hannah to taking her own life were particularly tough and severe. Now, please do note that I’m only talking about the plot; I have absolutely no intention of dissing or denigrating those who are agonized over such issues dealt in this book. I merely thought that we probably would not take our own lives over these incidents if we encountered just one or two out of them –  I wouldn’t say they are totally everyday matter and we all have been there, but then again, we may have experienced such issues more or less at some point in our lives, I assume.
The real problem, what makes it insufferable for Hannah is that they come in droves.
Like I mentioned, we could probably take some of the incidents that Hannah describes, with the help of others, that is. They are tough enough and might take some time for the wounds to heal, but we could probably bounce back if we have a solid support system.
However, I don’t think we could handle all of them if they came back to back, literally consecutively. That would be too much to take particularly for teenagers.
Although my first gut-reaction towards Hannah’s claims was a bit inconsequential, maybe? but I can easily imagine it would be humiliating and seem like her future holds no hope whatsoever for her. So, I could live with that.

Another point I want to make and what I particularly liked about this story is the change that visits Clay’s mind after hearing Hannah’s tapes.
This story tells you what big of an impact you can have on someone else’s life; how your words and deeds can affect others and the ripple effect of your conducts, even though the effect of which is unbeknownst to yourself.

And once you know the truth, that’ll change how you view things and people.

Being blatantly shown what he could have done to save her but he didn’t must have been too much for Clay, trust me – it was so hard to read, I felt for him – but I liked how he changes – or tries to change – after such a revelation.

And he actually puts his determination to action.

That’s enough for me; it’s such a hopeful, rewarding end.

I gave this 3.5 out of 5 stars, but this rating could be changed afterwards (probably in a positive way.)


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