Author: Jay Asher
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin)
Find it here: Amazon, Goodreads
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.
I was really hesitant about starting this book because I don't really enjoy contemporary YA fiction all that much, but I always like to be involved in the young adult group discussions about the book of the month and Thirteen Reasons Why was the book of the month. I had heard that it was really sad so I prepared myself for a book that was going to make me cry.
Even though Thirteen Reasons Why was a roller coaster of emotions for main characters Hannah and Clay, it didn't make me cry. Part of the reason is because I knew from the beginning of the book that Hannah had killed herself so it wasn't a surprise that in every chapter Hannah's state of mind became worse and worse. I did connect with the characters enough that I found myself hoping that Hannah was going to pop up around the corner or from the next room and say, "surprise, I really didn't kill myself." But of course, that didn't happen.
What really shocked me the most about the book was the guidance counselor character. As a professional who has worked in the counseling field for a little while now, I know the guidance counselor should have caught on to what was going on with Hannah. It's a big problem in the public school system with all the budget cuts. Guidance counselors are expected to take on classes instead of just focusing on the student body and their mental health. I felt like Hannah went to the guidance counselor knowing that he was too stressed with his classes and grading papers and that he wouldn't see the signs.
Towards the end, it just made me so sad to read her going out and finding reasons and people who would take advantage of her. She needed to prove to herself that no one respected her or that she didn't have any true friends. And that's exactly what she did. Thirteen Reasons Why is a very powerful novel that deals with a hard hitting teenage issues (bullying and suicide) that need to be talked about more.