13 March 2014
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Once Clay pushes play on the tapes left for him by his crush Hannah, who recently committed suicide, I was drawn in. Hannah talks to Clay (us) about the collection of events leading up to her death, weaving together people and events in an artful, melancholy, humorous, devastating story. Intermixed with Hannah's narration are Clay's reactions which when I first heard about the dual narrative structure worried me. Wouldn't his reactions be a bit unnecessary, especially if Hannah's voice is strong enough? Nope. Wrong. Definitely glad Clay is there. His reactions aren't simply a stand-in for what the reader is supposed to feel; they offer further insight rather than merely complementing Hannah.
And I loved Hannah's voice. She was straightforward without being mechanical, sarcastic without being too snarky, and obviously sad without being whiny or overly dramatic. While I spent a great deal of time being angry with her - silly teenager won't ask for help - I think I was supposed to be angry with her, just like I was supposed to be sad for her, mad with her, mad at her, disappointed in her, and proud of her. I was always feeling with her.
As for plot, what I loved about the story is that while we know Hannah commits suicide, we don't know why, and what we are really, really interested in is figuring out how Clay fits into her narrative. After all, who is this boy? He seems so normal and nice. What could he have done? The suspense of the plot revolves around this question for me - and for Clay as he genuinely cannot figure out why Hannah would send him these tapes.
There are so many details of this book I could talk about, events that really stuck with me: the roles the teachers played, the hot tub incident, the heartbreaking randomness of Tony, the question that is Jenny (and so many other characters), and on and on. But I don't have the time to do them justice and honestly I want you to read about them yourself (assuming you haven't already as I'm pretty sure I'm one of the last to read this).
Now I am curious: what other Jay Asher book should I read?