I usually write the review of a book I’ve read as soon as I’ve finished reading it; I like to get across how that book made me feel, and as I tend to binge read it doesn’t take me long to get immersed in another story. Also, if I don’t write the review straight away I’ll probably forget.
With Thirteen Reasons Why I was strangely reluctant to write the review immediately. I wanted to wait and think about the story for a while before I put my thoughts to paper (or screen as it were).
Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it. Inside he discovers cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker – his classmate 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…
Clay Jensen gets home from school and finds a parcel in his porch. When he opens the box and finds all the tapes he is a bit baffled, but his dad has an old HiFi so he goes and listens to the first tape. When Clay hears Hannah’s voice he is shocked, upset and confused, until she starts to explain the reason she made the tapes.
Hannah had a difficult time at High School, but the decision to take her own life wasn’t made easily. Thirteen separate people led to Hannah killing herself. One of these people was Clay.
Clay is a good person; he studies hard, is nice to everyone and rarely goes to high school parties.
Hannah was the new girl, she found it difficult to make friends and gained a reputation for being “fast”.
Despite her reputation, Clay started to fall for Hannah, although they didn’t really have many interactions. Clay does allude to something that happened between them, but doesn’t go into details until towards the end of the book, but he still is convinced he had nothing to do with Hannah’s death. Until he listens to the tapes.
The rules are that if you receive the tapes you have to listen to them, and pass them on to the next person in the list. If you don’t, someone who holds a second copy of the tapes will release them to the public.
This book is so compelling – I devoured it in about a day. I felt the need to keep reading, even though I knew that it was too late to try and save Hannah, she was already dead when the novel starts.
It’s such an odd and unique concept; the story is told from Clay’s perspective as he listens to the tapes, so you get two “voices” telling you what happened. As the story progresses you start to wonder if Clay really is such a good guy, and what exactly happened to drive Hannah to suicide.
Some of the interactions with the people on the list seemed small, but when it all added up it was a chain reaction that destroyed her life. Even when Hannah cried out for help, no one really listened.
This story is absolutely heartbreaking, and yet it really makes you going about how you talk to people. I always try to be nice to people (even if I secretly think they’re a knob), but this story really puts things into perspective. You have no idea what issues people are dealing with behind closed doors.
Sorry, a bit of a heavy post today, but honestly I can’t recommend this book highly enough.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments. Also, if you are dealing with depression or any mental health issues please reach out to someone.
Confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair.
Phone: 116 123 (free 24-hour helpline)