Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Clay Jenson comes home one day to find a mysterious box full of 7 cassette tapes, each side with a number 1 to 13. After putting one in his dad's old cassette player, he's surprised to hear the voice of Hannah Baker, who had committed suicide just a few weeks prior. The tapes detail her descent into suicide, and Clay spends the rest of the day and majority of the night listening to each tape and going to the places that she describes in them. Each tape talks about 1 of 13 different people, adding up to thirteen reasons why Hannah decided to end her life.
In Jay Asher's spectacular debut, he goes back and forth in the narrative between Clay's thoughts and dialogues with others and Hannah's voice on the tapes. The book in and of itself is a brilliant premise, and Asher follows through with a great storytelling skill. Vivid details, even in Hannah's tapes when she talks about each of the reasons, and a raw realism really catapult this novel to becoming one of the best novels of 2007. I highly recommend everyone pick up a copy. It is a very powerful book.
Note: I wrote this review back in late January 2008 for my myspace blog. I am posting this review here now because of two reasons: 1) I recently listened to the audio tape version and wanted to discuss it a bit and 2) Little Willow and I are planning on doing our next He Said, She Said about it, which will be posted sometime this month.
Anyway, the audio book version is fantastic. The guy and girl who did Clay and Hannah were wonderful in their respective roles. Hannah especially was exactly how I pictured her talking when I read the book- sort of this raspy, sarcastic kind of voice. I also have to say that listening to the audio book was much more powerful than reading the book, which is quite a feat since the book itself is quite powerful. Listening to both of these characters go through their journey is heart-wrenching and emotional, especially toward the end when Hannah is nearing the end of her reasons and tapes. I was seriously about to cry, which would not have been good since I was at work at the time. I felt this tightening in my chest as I continued to listen. Like Clay with the tapes, you just can't stop listening. You need to keep going and listen to them all with very few breaks.
That's all I've got for now. Look for the next installment of He Said, She Said soon!
back to main page