‘You don’t know what goes on in anyone’s life but your own. And when you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re not messing with just that part. Unfortunately, you can’t be that precise and selective. When you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re messing with their entire life. Everything. . . affects everything.’
When Clay Jensen arrives home from school to find a package on his doorstep, he has no idea what horror lies inside it.
In the package are 13 cassette tapes recorded by his classmate Hannah, who committed suicide two weeks earlier. She has 13 reasons why she killed herself, and Clay is one of those reasons. He must listen to all the tapes to find out what led to her death; it will change his life forever.
The plot sounds really inappropriate for children’s literature, but in actual fact, it’s not as bad as it seems. As a reader, you don’t feel a huge amount of empathy for Hannah, and in fact, at no point during the novel does it imply that what she did was acceptable. You do however relate to the main character Clay, which is a good thing given the context.
The 13 tapes target the thirteen people who treated her a certain way, leading to the straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak. Really it’s a story about bullying, and the effects even the smallest of actions can have on a person’s life. The idea of having the book solely in tape form is unique. I especially liked the way the author has Clay interact with Hannah while he’s listening to the tapes, even though only he is talking in the present tense. It’s a bit of a mystery, but quite emotional too.
An impressive and original debut from Jay Asher, and I would recommend it. It’s not the type of book parents are going to buy for their children, but teenagers will probably pick it up.
You can also listen to Hannah’s tapes here: Th1rteen R3asons Why
Suitable for age 14+
Original Book Girl