“I hope you’re ready, because I’m about to tell you the story of my life. More specifically, why my life ended. And if you’re listening to these tapes, you’re one of the reasons why.”
13 Reasons Why was author, Jay Asher’s, first novel. This book is about a teenage girl, Hannah, who is suffering from depression and commits suicide. The book begins after she has already killed herself and left 13 cassette tapes to specific people explaining why they all had a part in her suicide. The narrator of the story switches off between Hannah and a boy named Clay, who listens to the tapes. Clay was not really a part of Hannah’s suicide in the same way as the other people she speaks about on the tapes and he is conflicted about why she included him as one of the people to listen to them. This story is a very sad example of how rumors and gossip can really hurt a person and how one persons actions may not seem that harmful but when compounded, they may negatively affect another person’s life. Throughout the story Clay listens to Hannah’s tapes and is guilty for not seeing the signs of her depression earlier and for not getting to know her because he believed the rumors he heard about her. The dark, and sometimes disturbing, story leading up to Hannah’s suicide show Clay how much there actually is to a person and how important it is to try and get to know people for yourself. In the end of the story, Clay uses his experiences with Hannah and her tapes to change his actions. With the new ability to identify the signs of depression or personal struggle, he reaches out of a girl he thinks might be suffering from something similar to Hannah. Although the reader doesn’t get to see whether or not he helps the girl, it shows the reader that Clay has changed and Hannah’s death was not in vain.
I think this book was very good even though it was hard to read. I think it is important for young adults to read about depression and suicide because it is something that affects their age group. The book portrays a realistic high school experience, filled with gossip, bullying, cliques, sex, drugs, ect. and how that world can be hard to handle if you feel alone. Although it is a dark topic, the book does a pretty good job of highlighting what is important to know about depression and suicide in young adults. The only negative thing I have to say about the novel is that the way the book is structures makes Hannah out to seem very vengeful and angry, which I’m sure she was, however, I would not want students reading this book to confuse Hannah as some sort of spiteful villain rather than the victim she truly was.