“You can’t stop the future
You can’t rewind the past
The only way to learn the secret
…is to press play.”
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
Wow! This book has definitely caused a stir in the blogging realm! Some say that everyone goes through difficult things in their lives, and Hannah’s 13 reasons were not strong enough to justify suicide (not that suicide is ever justified…) Others say, who are we to judge? Everyone experiences life differently, and no one really knows what is going on in another person’s head. Honestly, I would have to agree with both sides. I reaaaally wanted to sympathize with Hannah, but I found it difficult. To me, she was whiny and constantly looking for excuses and people to blame. She could have prevented some of the 13 reasons herself. I also didn’t like that Hannah referred to her planned suicide in a joking matter. Obviously someone planning suicide also has some sort of mental illness, but still.
On a positive note, I think this book does a great job at raising awareness about this important and sensitive topic. Just last week, I was reading the newspaper about another Canadian teen committing suicide as an escape from bullying. Like Hannah, she experienced the ‘snowball effect’ of smaller problems adding up until she reached her breaking point. While I personally don’t think that Asher glorified suicide, I could understand how some readers thought so. In no way should suicide be used as an act of revenge against people who have hurt you.
I think this book allowed readers to understand what goes on in a suicidal person’s head, that an individual’s actions can seriously affect others and how to recognize the signs in others around you (like how Clay notices Skye at the end of the book). Therefore, I believe the powerful tale of 13 Reasons Why could be used to spark discussion in a non-preachy way about teen bullying and suicide. Also, teens may be interested to know that it will soon have a movie tie in! Production companies have acquired rights to the book, starring Selena Gomez. I’m not sure how she will do in a more serious and dark role, but I’m willing to give her a chance.
Overall, this book was a very quick read as you will want to journey along with Clay to find out more about Hannah’s story. I enjoyed the unique interchanging of listening to Hannah’s side, followed by Clay’s reaction and thoughts. You quickly get used of the interplay of different voices, and would make for a neat audiobook.
EXTRA—Want to further explore Hannah’s Map? There is an interactive version available at–