Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher, is the story of Clay, a high school student, and his classmate Hannah, who has recently committed suicide. Clay receives a mysterious package from an anonymous sender, and when he opens it, he finds a shoebox full of audio cassettes. He begins to listen, and he is horrified to learn they were made by Hannah just before she died. The story is mostly told by Hannah through the tapes as she recounts the 13 "reasons" that led to her decision. I started this book when I got home from work in the afternoon and continued until I finished past bedtime. This was a quick read, but by no means an easy one, and I could not put it down until the end. Several reviews I read complained that Hannah's reasons for killing herself were stupid, however, I think that people forget, or don't understand, that people who are depressed don't kill themselves because of a single reason or event. Rather, depression skews how we perceive the events that happen to us. I wish that the author had done a bit better of a job of conveying that difference in the story. Also, since the story is mostly told through Hannah's recordings, I often struggled with her tone. To me, she just didn't sound like a teenage girl. This may be due to the author being a grown man, but other male authors have successfully written convincing young female characters. She sounds too mature, but then again, a lot of female characters in young adult fiction are being written as mature beyond their years. Overall, I would recommend this book, and I would encourage anyone about to read it to do so with an open mind. The story is quite gripping, with a lesson we could all stand to learn and be reminded of.
When Clay Jenkins receives a box containing thirteen cassette tapes recorded by his classmate Hannah, who committed suicide, he spends the night crisscrossing their town, listening to Hannah's voice recounting the events leading up to her death.