You can’t stop the future.
You can’t rewind the past.
The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.
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 as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.
This is a difficult book to review not because of the writing brilliance or lack of, more because suicide is such an emotive and difficult subject to deal with sensitively. It’s one of those books that definitely fits in the unputdownable category. Curiosity carries you forward, and keeps you turning the pages… but, for me the tapes were a device, a method that the author used to convey the suicide’s victims feelings beyond the grave to the people who had hurt her. Wait a minute, I have an issue with this. Suicides don’t do this. This involves planning, and people considering ending their lives are unlikely to write a note, family and friends are left wondering – Why? But, I reckon Jay Asher meant well. I believe her intention was to explain that even the smallest hurt can attach to a larger hurt to grow into a huge hurt ball of pain. I get that, and it sounds plausible, but the upshot of this is the main protagonist starts of sounding whiny, and distances the reader somewhat. I didn’t find the main protagonist Hannah a likeable character, but perhaps that’s the point? The act of suicide means that you don’t dwell on who you might hurt by your actions – you are too immersed in your own pain – hence the significance of the rape scene. I’m not going into details in this review, no spoilers, read this yourself and make up your own mind.
Ultimately, suicide is the most terribly sad act of self destruction committed by a person who has mental health issues, or is suffering with unbearable pain. Mental health, bullying and depression are major reasons why people commit suicide and these issues should be discussed openly and with a caring attitude, particularly as they are a rising problem in our young people.
Thirteen Reasons Why isn’t a perfect book, but it does provokes discussion. It makes you consider what damage people do to each other and acknowledges that we don’t really know what is going on in other people’s lives.
Of course this debut has been an enormous success with a TV series on Netflix. Both of my daughters have watched the series.)
Rating: A very difficult one to rate, I spent a lot of time deliberating about this one. I’d say it is sitting on a 4 star read.
If you are experiencing mental health problems I’ve discovered this wonderful online resource that I would recommend: https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/general/i-need-someone-to-talk-to-about-my-problems-but-where-do-i-turn/
Disclaimer and buying links:
DISCLAIMER: “As of 13th September 2017 we are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.”
My opinions are my own and any reviews on this site have not been swayed or altered in any way by monetary compensation, or by the offer of a free book in exchange for a review.
UK Kindle: http://amzn.to/2f5UABK
UK Paperback: http://amzn.to/2f61iaR
Bye for now,
My social media links:
Facebook: Authors/Bloggers Rainbow Support Club
Fellow Administrators of our Authors Bloggers Rainbow Support Club #ABRSC on Facebook, myself, my good friends Colleen Chesebro and Debby Gies. Click on Colleen’s and Debby’s photos to be directed to their awesome blogs. These ladies rock!
I think you summed this up really nicely. I’m a teenager, and I read the book after watching the Netflix original series; I wish I’d done it the other way around, but the hype surrounding the series was unavoidable, so I watched it almost exclusively for the week or so that it took me to complete it. Suicide is a difficult topic, and the storyline behind this book lays the blame almost entirely on the friends and family of the victim, which I argue could be detrimental to the mental health of a young (or any) reader who has had a friend or loved one commit suicide. Whilst I don’t believe that Baker’s reasons for committing suicide could ever be labelled with life-like accuracy, I think you’re right in that the plot as a whole starts discussion, and if it gets people talking about suicide and mental health in general, then that’s a step forward in itself.
Thank you so much, I really appreciate your thoughts. I struggled to write this review – in fact I struggled to decide how to rate this. Sometimes those kind of books are good too as they make you reflect and consider aspects more thoroughly. And as you say discussion is so important. Burying our heads and pretending that bad stuff doesn’t happen is the worst thing we can do. It’s better to be out there, honest and open.
So, so true. So glad you pushed on and wrote this though 🙂
Thank you. 🙂
Great review – I am pleased you read this…it left me in two minds. Very emotive issue to deal with, I found it quite “triggering”, and as a mother I felt awful for Hannah’s parents. A warning, I feel, to look after each other and be kind.
I agree, we have to be careful how we respond to others. Often there is unseen pain going on and youngsters are particularly vulnerable.
Yes…why didn’t the mother realise…I also found suicide as revenge quite uncomfortable and sad…
I can understand this was a difficult review to write. I hadn’t heard of the book or the Netflix series and I’m not sure I want to read or view either although I feel I should! I agree the recordings are a rather clumsy device but it does sound like a book which will provoke discussion about the topic which must be a good thing.
I don’t want to watch the series, (I think it would be too emotionally draining from what I’ve heard,) the book was enough for me. I agree Mary provoking discussion is a good thing.
Great review, you make many good points here, Marje… I have watched the series on Netflix… And will have to say that I found it disturbing at times… Knowing that the girl was going to commint suicide and was saying goodbye as well as maybe “blaming” people for her imminet decision was something tough. As the series is quite shallow at times, you seem to go along and forget it… But the ending is there… from the very beginning. Sending love & best wishes :star:
Marje, I’ve seen the whole series…by the end because I wanted to see what happened!! It’s compelling story but I also had a problem with Hannah and the planning of the tapes. I’ve seen the book and wondered whether it would be a good idea to read…hmmm…your review is excellent but as you mention some of my hesitations with the tv adaption I might leave it. Have your daughters read the book? What did they make of the series? I like how you put in the mental health resource link – a great idea!
My eldest daughter read the book and both watched the series. Thought it was good but harrowing. Hope the mental health resource might help someone in need. 🙂