Saturday, February 2, 2008

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Title: Thirteen Reasons Why
Author: Jay Asher
ISBN: 9781595141712
Publisher: Razor Bill/2007
Pages: 288

I won Thirteen Reasons why from Dewey in a book giveaway. Frankly, I was not sure what to expect, although I had read Dewey's review. After I picked it up, I simply could not put it down. This is Jay Asher's first novel and he has truly done a good job of it.

Clay Jensen receives a package with no return address. When he opens it, he finds seven cassette tapes. Those have been recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate who had committed suicide two weeks ago. He had secretly been in love with her but never had the courage to tell her about it.

In those cassettes, she has stated thirteen reasons for ending her own life and he is one of the reasons. Hannah had even left him a map marking places with dots for him to visit. In a way, she has chronicled her life before she gave it up. He walks out of his home, filches his friend, Tony's walkman and with her voice in his ear; he walks all over the town trying to understand why she took her own life. Every recipient has to pass it on to the next person who is somehow one of the thirteen reasons.

Once started, it is impossible to put it down. Hanna's voice along with Clay's thoughts keeps prodding us on. Why did a teenager kill herself? Why can't her friends see the signs? Why and how did she develop a reputation? Who is responsible for spreading rumours and assuming the worst about a girl who is new to the town and needs friends? For two long years, she tried to fit in. Somehow, she could not cope and killed herself. However, before doing that she recorded her voice, to be sent it all those who were somehow responsible for her extreme step.

After reading this, I kept thinking about it. As teachers, parents and friends we should be able to see the signs. Sometimes, we choose to ignore it. We have hard time accepting someone who is different. Gossip, rumour, malice can damage someone beyond redemption. That is a strong message. Clay's life changes after listening to the tapes. He is shocked to learn about his school mates which include a peeping tom. All the characters have been well developed. We can see Clay and Tony. Others we get to know from the cassettes in Hannah's voice.

Jay Asher has gone into the mind of a teenager and written this very well crafted book. Gripping and haunting. It is pegged as a book for young adults. Because of the issue taken in here, every parent and teacher should read this book.

Dewey wants this book to be widely circulated. I am giving this to my school library so that it gets read by many. All the teachers and students.