Perfection is NOT a word I use often and certainly not in reference to a book. I’m a contrary person and usually find some small flaw with everything. I’m having trouble finding the flaw in Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher.
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.
There are a million things within the pages of this book that resonated with me and I don’t know where to begin. Maybe the best place is with the characters Hannah and Clay. I related to them, eerily so in some instances. Hannah’s decent into depression is very familiar to me and her thought processes…well, let’s just say I’ve been down that road.
Clay is wracked with confusion, anger and grief as Hannah’s story unfolds. I’ve been there too. That desire to understand the decisions of others, the hurt that comes when you are pushed away — those are real emotions that everyone experiences. Asher touched on something when he created these characters and he didn’t let the harshness scare him. He wrote it as it is.
The story is heartrending. The idea that someone is so hurt by the world around her that she documents it on tape, not as an excuse for her choice of suicide, but as a mirror to those who made decisions without thinking of the consequences, is warped. However, it accurately portrays the skewed logic of one weighted by depression. You don’t really know how impaired your judgement is until you find help. Unfortunately, Hannah didn’t receive the help she needed even though she did reach out.
The plot, the pivot points, are eye opening. The actions of others affected Hannah so drastically that she lays them all out and shows how they connected in her mind. Those connections pierce Clay, wounding him deeply. But he also learns from his journey with Hannah’s voice. As Hannah descends into darkness Clay emerges from it.
When I opened this book, it was with the intention of reading a couple chapters then going to bed. Once I started, I couldn’t put it down and read it completely in just a few hours. It clung to me for quite a while afterwards; sleep did not come easy.
This is the type of book you’ll want all your friends to read, but it isn’t for everyone. There are some disturbing events that are written so realistically it’s frightening. That’s what makes Thirteen Reasons Why such a brilliant work. All the elements, character development, story, plot, writing skill and author voice, combine seamlessly. Perfection.