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Saturday, January 2, 2010

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Posted by Irish in Uncategorized4 Comments

Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date:
ISBN: 1595141715
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 320
Jay Asher – Official Site
Jay Asher – Blog
Jay Asher – Twitter

Place(s) Traveled to: Anytown, USA

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I seem to be drawn to books about suicide lately because not long after reading Hold Still by Nina LaCour (my review) I was drawn to Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why. The subject of suicide is always a difficult one to deal with and I can’t even imagine how these two writers were able to do so. Suicides can be so selfish and personal and usually one the one who committed the act can ever understand why. Those that he/she leaves behind are usually left with this gaping hole of questions – wonder why their loved one thought that taking their life was the only answer and with so many feelings of guilt that they weren’t able to prevent it from happening. I thought that LaCour handled the topic with grace and beauty. Yes. I said beauty, her prose is just so lyrical that you can’t ignore its greatness even when the subject itself isn’t a pretty one. Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why does the same.
In Hold Still, Ingrid left a notebook filled with letters for Caitlin to find. What Caitlin did with those letters was up to her. In Thirteen Reasons Why, Hannah is a bit more proactive in what she wants to happen with her message. She records thirteen stories on cassette tapes and sends them through the mail to the thirteen people. These thirteen people are the ones that she feels most contributed to her decision and they must hear how their actions – both grand and small have far greater effects then they might not have ever thought about. After listening to all the tapes the person is instructed to package them back up and mail them to the person who comes after them in the story. The last person can then make them public or burn them as they will just so long as all thirteen people listen. The story itself is told from two different points of view, the first is Clay’s a classmate of Hannah’s who receives the tapes one afternoon after school. The second is Hannah.

I can’t begin to tell you how much I loved this story. I was blown away by it and think that Asher is a borderline genius. I was addicted to Hannah’s voice from the first page and felt all the same emotions that Clay did as he listened. Like Clay I was unable to stop. I couldn’t put this book down until I learned how Clay fit into the story and the events that lead up to Hannah taking her own life. Hannah is this amazing girl and it simply broke my heart to read her story. She is so smart and funny and is the sort of person that I would have loved to have known and been friends with in school. Asher takes this difficult subject and makes it understandable. He shows that its not always the big things that have the greatest impact. It can be something small, ‘a single drop in an ocean that sets off a chain of ripples then ends up in a tidal wave of emotion’* that becomes so overwhelming that the person just can’t cope with it. As with LaCour, Asher handles a difficult subject with grace and aplomb. He doesn’t condone Hannah’s actions but he just offers up to those she left behind something that they can hold on to fill that hole of questions asking why. I highly recommend this book to everyone. It’s a touching and heartbreaking read but it is such an amazing story and everyone needs to read its message. For those that love audiobooks, I have it on excellent authority that this book is made even better when listened to. At some point I may have to check it out but right now my heart is too broken over the loss of Hannah that it needs time to heal before I can risk breaking it again. To hear bits of the audio and to get a glimpse of part of this amazing book then click here, this link will open up Hannah’s map which was given to all those who appear on the tapes. Thirteen Reasons Why isn’t a perfect book there are some scenes that seemed a little too cliched, too contrived….but over all I loved this story. I think its a very powerful and emotional read and if you haven’t picked it up yet then I strongly suggest that you do so as soon as possible.

*this is a paraphrasing of one of my favourite quotes/passage from the book Into the Labyrinth by Margret Weis and Tracy Hickman. The full text is as follows for those that are interested:

“We each have within ourselves the ability to shape our own destinies. That much we understand. But, more important, each of us has an equal ability to shape the destiny of the universe. Ah, that you find more difficult to believe. But I tell you it is so. You do not have to be the leader of the Council. You do not have to be king or monarch or the head of a clan to have a significant impact on the world around you. In the vastness of the ocean, is any drop of water greater than another? No, you answer, and neither has a single drop the ability to cause a tidal wave. But, I argue, if a single drop falls into the ocean, it creates ripples. And these ripples spread. And perhaps – who knows – these ripples may grow and swell and eventually break foaming upon the shore. Like a drop in the vast ocean, each of us causes ripples as we move through our lives. The effects of whatever we do – insignificant as it may seem – spread out beyond us. We may never know what far-reaching impact even the simplest action might have on our fellow mortals. Thus we need to be conscious, all of the time, of our place in the ocean, of our place in the world, of our place among our fellow creatures. For if enough of us join forces, we can swell the tide of events – for good or for evil.” ~Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, Into the Labyrinth

4 Responses to “Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher”

  1. Dani.

    A with you, I absolutely loved this book! I actually wrote a letter to Universal Studios (though I never sent it) saying that this book should be made into a movie by them. Though Im not sure if I want that because I dont want them to ruin it. :]

  2. Joanne ♦ The Book Zombie

    I thought this was a fantastic book too. Hannah wasn’t a character I liked very much at all, but I loved Clay and seeing how he dealt with the situation. Hadn’t heard of Hold Still before, but it’s on my TBR now.