Tuesday 16 May 2017

Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Thirteen Reasons Why
Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier.

On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out how he made the list.

Through Hannah and Clay's dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.

Shona's review 5 of 5 stars

I had heard of Thirteen Reasons Why many moons ago, it was one of those books that I promised myself I would read, but my reading list got ridiculously out of control and this book slipped from my mind. Then suddenly there was a flurry of conversation on social media as it was announced that it was being adapted for Netflix and once again I was reminded that I wanted to read this. What I did instead was binge watch the 13 Netflix episodes with the idea being that I would still read the book at some point in the future. But upon finishing the series I struggled to organise my thoughts, I wasn't entirely sure how I was supposed to feel. So I did the only thing I knew how to do and I read the book too. Only I'm still sat here trying to process my thoughts and feelings. And I think that's the whole point.

You aren't supposed to be able to read this and just move on with your life. The death of anyone, let alone a teenage girl with her entire life before her, should never be easily dismissed. Whether you are a teenage reader or an adult one, this book should make you feel uncomfortable. Some of Hannah's reasons may be small and insignificant to you, but when you put them all together you can begin to understand the snowball effect and why it may weight a person down. Something I remember thinking of Hannah when watching the first episode, when she was pursuing Justin Foley, was just how happy and confident she seemed... compare that to the Hannah in the last few episodes and its easy to see the difference (something that wasn't so obvious but definitely implied in the books), but we don't always notice the changes when they happen slowly.

I have urged my teenage daughters to watch this series, to read this book. I want to open up the discussion about mental health, about bullying and about suicide. I want them to know that Hannah's story doesn't have to be their story. Hannah had people that she could have confided in but for whatever reason didn't. 

There is no part of this book or tv series that is easy, but Asher has handled the subject matter beautifully.
It's also worth noting that the copy I read was the original copy in which Hannah succeeds in killing herself, I've heard in the anniversary edition she is found in time and survives.... and I would definitely be looking to read that for myself.

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