Published by Razorbill on October 18th, 2007
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
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.
I don't normally read contemporary books, mainly because I don't enjoy the teenage immaturity and jokes. But I was pleasantly surprised that this book contained very few of them. I had heard so many great things about this book, I just had to finally read it for myself. Immediately, I thought the concept was intriguing and slightly creepy. But as the story continued, I could understand and relate the emptiness that Hannah felt. In the short period of time the story takes place, you can really see and feel how much Hannah changes and how desperate Clay becomes even though he already knows the outcome. As I was nearing the end, I was desperately hoping for a highly impossible miracle to happen or something that would enlighten me and give me hope. I did feel a tiny bit of closure in the end. I think this was a fantastic story. Not too many teen/young adult novels focus on hard topics such as this one. It really opened up my eyes. As Clay, Hannah, and Tony talked about the signs, I began to wonder. I think it is important to get the word and raise awareness for this issue before it is too late. I was glad that Hannah attempted to get help, but by reserving her emotions and thoughts, it made it difficult for other characters to decipher what was truly going on until it was too late. I hadn't realized the similarities between myself and Hannah until she started them. We all experience something that can overwhelm us to the point that we feel like giving up. But by giving up, you are letting your fear and negative feelings win. Each day can be a struggle, but you have the power to change that and seek help. The signs are not always clear for everyone and only leaves them with unbearable guilt. Overall, I really enjoyed the story. I thought the characters were perfectly portrayed and remained true to themselves till the very end. The format was also very interesting and a great creative way to include both of Hannah's and Clay's thoughts without veering off very far. I could not put this book down, I read it in less than 8 hours. Definitely something everyone should read. I don't think I can listen to 'Life is Beautiful' by Vega4 as just a song. My eyes have been opened and I will my view of the world will forever be impacted by this book.