Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Thirteen Reasons Why

The Book: Thirteen Reasons Why

The Writer: Jay Asher

The Dealio: Clay Jenson comes home from school one day to find a wrapped shoe box, containing 7 cassette tapes, leaning on his front door. He soon learns that the tapes were made by Hannah Baker, a girl on whom he has an enormous crush. Here is what she says: 'If you are listening to this tape, that means that I have killed myself. And you are one of the 13 reasons why.' What follows are 13 stories, told from Hannah's perspective, about people who touched her life, and then cornered her in such a way that she felt driven to end it. The vehicle for telling the story is mainly call and response between Hannah's taped messages, and Clay's real-time reactions to her tales. But this is no mere Scheherazade, staving off her certain demise by weaving tales of fancy and fiction. This is the last, desperate restating of events , hoping for an eleventh hour reprieve. As such, it is gut-wrenching.

The Grading Session: 4.803 pengies out of 5. First of all, this is a strong, powerful, evocative story. But- as is usually the case with adolescence- there is so very much drama and eventfulness, that it is, at times, too-too-too. That was my first reaction. Then, I thought back to my own teen years, and began to recall how everything is as urgent, as important,as life-and-death as everything else. There doesn't seem to be any sort of sliding scale at work. And then, the book began to lose that sense of hysteria and breathlessness for me, and began to ring so-unfortunately- true. Context is, after all, a valuable thing. I also was pleased with Hannah's final words. I got the impression that Clay was one of the few (maybe the only?) one to actually hear them.

Lessons Learned: Never, ever would I want to be a teenager- or even a preteen- again. Next this: it doesn't take much to give a person in peril and pain a reason why not. I often think about a similar situation my son experienced: a classmate told him she wanted to kill herself over the weekend. His response? 'I really wish you wouldn't! I would miss you so much!' Of course, he came home and told us, and I, narc that I am, gave the info to the school and asked them what the plan was (counsellors like you read about on site the next AM ).
Finally, this: evil grows when good people do nothing. So- if you don't like what you see, if what you see worries something. Say something. It really does matter. You really do matter.

1 comment:

  1. This book is so intense it will keep you up all night. I can reread "13 Reasons Why" over and over and never get bored. There are surprises in every in every chapter and in every tape. You never know what going to happen to her next. Everyone will feel diffrent about the subject of this book, but Jay Asher gives another twist in this book that nobody could think of. Every page you turn you want to speed through to get to the next, but i suggest taking your reading this and it will be more enjoyable.