Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Book Blurb:
You can't stop the future.
You can't rewind the past.
The only way to learn the secret... is to press play.

Clay Jensen returns home to find a strange package with his name on it. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker- his class mate and first love- who committed suicide two weeks earlier.

Hannah's voice explains there are thirteen reasons why she killed herself. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out why.

All through the night, Clay keeps listening- and what he discovers changes his life...

A lot of students have been eager to read this book so when Peta's shipment of two copies arrived this week I just had to read a chapter to see what it was like. Of course, I couldn't put it down. Thanks again Peta for your generous donation. The books arrived yesterday from bookdepository!

It is a compelling book with an interesting writing style. I liked how the writer, Jay Asher, weaved the story together by having the main character listen to the tapes. Clay's reactions to what Hannah says on the tapes, at times, makes it seem as if the two are conversing. At the very least, it gives Hannah's story perspective and drives the story forward. In one night, Clay listens to the story of the girl he loved and he travels around the town where they live to significant places in Hannah's experiences leading up to her dark decision.

The content of this book is a bit disturbing. After all, the other main character, Hannah, has killed herself. That certainly ups the maturity level of this book but also makes it worth reading.

It doesn't glorify suicide at all. It doesn't make us feel that the character's choice was good and we don't get a feeling of justice when the other characters listen to her story. At times, in fact, I found myself feeling a bit annoyed and frustrated by Hannah and I had to wonder if that was partly by design. I'm not sure. She makes a lot of mistakes too. She isn't perfect. And her decision to end her life is a mistake. Ultimately, she did have friends and family who loved her even if she didn't always see that. The reader, in the end, is left with a feeling of great pity.

The main message in the book is powerful. It reminds us that we must be kind and caring towards others and that even the little things we do that aren't very nice can have a drastic affect on the people around us. By the time you finish reading this book, I guess that's what you take away from it - and that's a good thing.

There is some mature content here but it isn't titillating at all - it is the exact opposite. This is a warning to teen readers though. This book deals with harsh issues of American teenage life and isn't a "fun" read. However, it is very interesting and will appeal to those students who enjoy dramatic narratives.

4/5 stars

We now have 3 copies in the SRR available, but if you just can't wait I think Booker still has a copy (last seen on the top of the fiction bookshelf).

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