Th1rteen R3asons Why, by Jay Asher
Clay is excited to receive a package in the mail, until he realizes that it contains cassette tapes from a classmate, Hannah, who committed suicide. In the tapes, Hannah gives thirteen reasons why she took an overdose of pills. Her voice explains:
I hope you’re ready, because I’m about to tell you the story of my life. More specifically, why my life ended. And if you’re listening to these tapes, you’re one of the reasons why.
And so begins a compelling, compassionate, intimate glimpse into Hannah’s life. Her story appears in italics, and Clay’s actions and reactions in regular print. They both have pretty ordinary lives that many people will be able to relate to.
The stories of the thirteen people and what they did to her were mostly ordinary as well. You find out that someone started a rumor and how that hurt Hannah. Another pretended to be her friend, then ignored her. And someone else stole her notes from a class. There are a few “big” events in the story, but they aren’t lifted any higher than the more ordinary events as the reason Hannah decided to take her life.
Hannah explains it in the tapes:
I guess that’s the point of it all. No one knows for certain how much impact they have on the lives of other people. Oftentimes, we have no clue. Yet we push it just the same.
Long after I closed the book, I continue to wonder how my words and actions impact others.
The author doesn’t glamorize the suicide, and it’s not portrayed as the only option that Hannah had. Clay is frustrated because he thinks he would have listened had Hannah confided in him. Maybe it would have made a difference, maybe not. The author doesn’t get hung up on being preachy. He makes it an interesting story. One that ends with hope—hope that Clay will never forget Hannah and hope he will make an effort to reach out to others who may be hurting inside.
Check the WRL catalog for Thirteen Reasons Why