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Thirteen Reasons Why (edition 2007)
by Jay Asher
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
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Decided to read this after watching the Netflix series for a second time. I enjoy that it is different to the TV series and gave a narrower insight to how Clay perceives characters and events after hearing the tapes.
This YA story is more remarkable for its unique style and structure than for the actual story line. When we "meet" Hannah, she has already committed suicide. She leaves behind a set of cassette tapes that basically reveal the reasons why she killed herself. And yes, she names names.
The book is structured so that each chapter represents one side of a cassette tape. We hear Hannah's voice telling her story on the tape and that is interspersed with commentary from the listener, Clay, a boy who liked and worked with Hannah before her death.
Initially, I found the structure to be very compelling in the sense that it really built suspense, AND it was great getting Clay's reaction as he listened to the tapes.
Unfortunately, what started out as fresh and new started to annoy me over the course of the book. I felt like Clay was interrupting and slowing the telling of Hannah's story, and as I began to care more about her story and less about his, I just became less enamored with the novel's structure.
All in all, it is a strong young adult book, and I did read it very quickly. It was hard to put down. I give the author kudos for creativity . . .but all in all, I felt that it didn't quite merit that 4th star.
Warning: This book discusses depression and suicide.
I read this book on a flight between London and Malta, after having bought it the day before at Waterstones. I’ve since lent it to anyone who will listen to me, because holy shit this book is amazing.
The book discusses the theme of teenage suicide, through the point of view of someone whose classmate and first love has killed herself. Clay receives a shoe box with seven cassette tapes inside, and each side contains a part of a story, explaining why Hannah Baker had killed herself in the first place.
Without going into too much detail, the book goes into so many different issues: friendship, underage drinking, drunk driving, rape culture, first love, adults being disappointing, depression, suicide, mental issues being viewed as invalid, popularity, sex, voyeurism…
It has it all.
Each side of each tape reveals someone who did something, however small, that led to Hannah killing herself. Each side of the story reveals how small inconsequential actions leads to larger and larger ones, and eventually, it all amounts into a life that’s difficult to live. Hannah kills herself after being let down, time after time after time, and by the end of it, it almost feels like it isn’t just Clay who’s lost a friend. It’s you too.
The story works as a great way to bring up the concept of teen suicide to an audience who may have never met someone suicidal. It puts things into perspective, and helps you realize just how bad it can be for someone, even if they don’t show it. And maybe, just maybe, it can reach someone who knows someone who’s killed themselves, someone who has to deal with an empty space in their life, and helps there. Or maybe someone who’s bullied in the past before, someone who’s said things that have hurt people before. Maybe through this book, they’ll realize that what they do and what they say could really have an impact.
That’s the best things about books – you never know who they’ll reach.
Final rating: 5/5. Please read this book, no matter who you are or what you’ve experienced or who you’ve lost.
I can’t support a novel that has a young girl taking her life as a way to punish the people that hurt or failed her. This is not an acceptable resolution. There was no sufficient exploration of places this vulnerable girl could have received support. Readers get to see how guilty the 13 people feel and how her suicide affects their lives. Readers get to see family grieving her loss. Readers get to see how some of the characters change for the better as a result of this tragedy. Why am I emphasising the readers? It’s because people contemplating suicide may read this and think "if I die people will be so sad and guilty and that will serve them right". However, they will never know if this is true because they will be dead. This is an important topic. It should be written about, however it needs to be written about in a responsible way. One in which vulnerable people can relate to but are also shown ways to seek help. Acknowledge the difficulty but provide some hope. This book does the opposite. Hannah feels that taking her own life is the only option and spends the rest of the book explaining why. So destructive and irresponsible. From a high school librarian’s point of view I will never recommend this book. We have very clear policies surrounding these emotionally challenging topics. Whilst we don’t censor books we wouldn’t use this in book talks (class or individual).
If you are contemplating suicide please reach out to someone. It can be a family member, friend, teacher, trusted adult or a helpline. You are loved. You are valued. You are important.
“Waiho i te toipoto, kaua i te toiroa.” - let us keep close together, not far apart
Clay Jensen receives a package of tapes in the mail with no return address from one of his classmates Hannah baker who had killed herself two weeks before as he struggles to hear the tapes of Hannah he also follows this map that Hannah had put in his locker a week before she committed Suicide as clay travels star to star he hears the stories of people who have hurt Hannah. And drove her to kill herself you only hear the tapes if you had something to do with it so if you don't pass the tapes on they will be release to everyone clay listens to the tapes and he fails to see who he can trust person by person clay has some type of incounterment with everyone else on the tapes and trays to help Hannah out with the last tape she couldn't get around to
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Wikipedia in English (3)
When high school student Clay Jenkins receives a box in the mail containing thirteen cassette tapes recorded by his classmate Hannah, who committed suicide, he spends a bewildering and heartbreaking night crisscrossing their town, listening to Hannah's voice recounting the events leading up to her death.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)813.6Literature English (North America) American fiction 21st Century
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The book has generated a bit of controversy, especially when Netflix gave the work more exposure by producing a limited series in 2017. Topics of debate seemed to center around the work/series promoting suicidal ideation and execution though the original book seems to be more about personal awareness and accountability. Overall, a worthy topic of discussion, especially between parents and their junior-high and high school students. ( )