Thirteen Reasons Why – by Jay Asher
It’s been a long time since I stayed up into the wee hours of the morning to finish a book, but I had a great deal of trouble putting this one down. It felt almost disrespectful not to keep reading. I felt a little like Clay, staying up late into the night to finish Hannah’s tapes. There may not be a lot of action pushing the plot forward, but the story is gripping nonetheless.
When Clay receives a box of cassette tapes in the mail, he has no idea what to expect or how his life is about to change. The tapes are from Hannah, a girl who committed suicide a couple of weeks previously. They contain thirteen stories, each revolving around a particular person and explaining how that person contributed to Hannah’s decision to take her own life. The tapes are being passed from person to person on the list, and Clay doesn’t know what number he is, but he has to keep listening to find out why Hannah blames him.
This book is not only gripping, but haunting and sad. The characters are very real, each with his/her own flaws, and the book has a lot to say, about suicide and about bullying and the ways that even small pieces of cruelty can have huge impacts. It veers a little close to didactic PSA territory at points, but for the most part manages to stop just short.