“Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker – his classmate and crush – who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why. Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and learns the truth about himself-a truth he never wanted to face.”
So the plot of this book was one of suspense, depression, logic, and the cruelty of teens. The book takes place with alternating narration from Clay and Hannah Baker. Clay is a teen boy who has been in love with Hannah for a long time. He received a package in the mail of tapes from Hannah, but Hannah killed herself. Now a package of tapes she recorded are being sent to the thirteen people that are most connected to her suicide. She makes the thirteen people listen to the tapes and send them to the next person. If anyone does not pass on the tapes then another person releases the tapes for everyone to hear. It is intense.
Reading why Hannah made her decision to commit suicide and Clay’s reactions to it was so hard to get through, but it was so suspenseful that I did not want to stop reading. The author was able to create a burning need for me to know Hannah and to know everything Hannah was willing to tell me. All of the reasons that Hannah revealed (minus a few) were common issues teens face in high school. It shows the cruel nature of teenagers. High school was indeed the worst time of Hannah’s life and for many others, but they don’t get a voice. Hannah only got a voice after she had killed herself.
Hannah was touched by so many people, even people who did not mean to be cruel. It was hard not to make the same connections Hannah did. Though hers seemed more driven by this intense pain and by an almost irrational logic. It got harder and harder to bare the longer the books went on. Reason 13 (tape 7, side A) was so close to what I experience in high school that I started laughing really inappropriately. This book needs to be given to people in power over teenagers. There needs to be more resources to teach teachers, guidance counselors, principals, and more what to do if someone does reach out to them so they will be prepared. Yes, the warning signs papers matter, but that is not what to do about the issues.
Overall this book allowed for a suicidal character to have a terrible life that was not out of bounds crazy, it allowed people to see how others react to finding out they were truly cruel, and it showed that suicide is a taboo but that it shouldn’t be one. This was a great book that I think needs to be given serious consideration.
4.5 out of 5 stars. I would recommend this book.