Book review: “Thirteen Reasons Why”
April 4, 2012 • written by Emily Zhen, Staff Writer
Filed under Entertainment
To be honest, I’m not really into depressing books about serious issues like suicide, but Jay Asher’s bestseller “Thirteen Reasons Why” was a mesmerizing, yet powerful read for me.
High-schooler Clay Jensen returns home one day to find a strange package sitting at his doorstep. Inside the package he discovers seven cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker—his classmate and crush—who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Curious and bewildered, Clay starts listening to the tapes, which detail thirteen specific reasons behind Hannah’s decision to end her own life. Soon, Clay realizes that he is one of these thirteen reasons and the only way to find out why is to keep listening.
Riveting and eerie, the fast-paced novel is told in dual narration, alternating between Hannah’s voice from the tapes and Clay’s thoughts. Filled with suspense and mystery, I found myself not able to put the book down. I had to shut the book several times just to absorb the beauty and pain that a certain line evoked. It was haunting, yet enthralling at the same time. Hannah’s pain and Clay’s guilt were gut-wrenching and real, and I felt myself sympathizing for them.
Despite its heavy and dark theme, “Thirteen Reasons Why” provides hope and inspiration to readers. It inspires a simple, yet significant message without preaching it. Readers can learn that one simple action can push someone over the edge. After all, none of us will ever know how big of an impact we have on the lives of other people. In reality, all it takes is one mean comment or one humiliating joke. For Hannah, it was a long chain of events that added up until she could not bear her own life.
Books usually don’t have a great effect on me, but this book forced me to watch my words and actions because as Asher put it, “everything…affects everything.”
Anyone interested in learning more about mental health issues should read this book, as it provides a shocking, yet realistic perspective about depression and suicide. I sincerely believe that everyone can get something out of it. It’s a seemingly simple story that will definitely have a meaningful impact on your life.