To be honest, I had never heard of this book when I found out that it was selected for the October Book Club selection over at Peanut Butter Fingers. The description on the back was intriguing…”You can’t stop the future. You can’t rewind the past. The only way to learn the secret…is to press play.” And encoded in the wording are the familiar “Stop,” “Rewind,” and “Play” buttons found on old cassette tapes. The story itself seemed a lil’ dark – a lil’ out of my comfort zone for easy reading…but I suppose going outside of my comfort zone is what ultimately made me decide to pick it up and participate.
THE FIRST LINES
“Sir?” she repeats. “How soon do you want it to get there?
I rub two fingers, hard, over my left eyebrow. The throbbing has become intense. “It doesn’t matter,” I say.
The clerk takes the package. The same shoebox that sat on my porch less than twenty-four hours ago; rewrapped in a brown paper bag, sealed with clear packing tape, exactly as I had received it. But now addressed with a new name. The next name on Hannah Baker’s list.
FROM THE PUBLISHER
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.
Copyright 2007 Penguin Group
The ultimate message I took from this book…“No one knows for certain how much impact they have on the lives of other people.” First, let me warn that the subject matter is definitely not easy or comfortable. So it was difficult to rate this book…and it is also difficult to “recommend.” This is a story of Hannah, a teenage girl, who made the difficult decision to commit suicide. Clay Jensen, a boy who liked Hannah, comes home from school and finds a package directed to him with no return address. Inside he finds seven tapes. I’m sure Clay was expecting something else, but what he got, was to hear Hannah’s voice, “Hello, boys and girls. Hannah Baker here. Live and in stereo. I hope you’re ready, because I’m about to tell you the story of my life. More specifically, why my life ended. And if you’re listening to these tapes, you’re one of the reasons why.” Each side of the tape is a past memory that connects Hannah’s final days together; a “snowball effect”leading up to her death. The series of tapes are addressed to people who she finds more or less responsible for the decision to end her life. I really liked the merging of the two narratives: Hannah speaking through the tapes, and, as Clay listens to the tapes, his thoughts and reactions to the events that happen to Hannah. Both are a unique and interesting way for the reader to be captivated. I also thought that the idea of Clay walking through town with a Walkman is powerful – a lonely, isolated quest to discover what happened to this lonely, isolated girl. The journey is dark as we experience Hannah’s descent from the excitement of moving to a new place and first love, to disillusionment in those she thought to be her friends, to loss of trust and privacy, to disappointment in herself, and finally to ultimate self-destruction.