Book Review: Thirteen Reasons Why

Read: 28 Feb 2017
Finished: 2 Mar 2017

Summary

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a package addressed to him on his porch. Inside, he finds several cassette tapes recorded by his classmate and crush, Hannah Baker – who had committed suicide two weeks earlier. Out of curiosity, Clay listens to the first tape where Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life and he is one of them. Wanting to find out the reason why he was involved, Clay spends the night all over town retracing events with Hannah as his guide. With Hannah’s recorded words, he is given an insight into her thoughts and pain that led up to her decision and what he discovers in the process will change his life forever.

Review

Thirteen Reasons Why was unlike what I had imagined the book to be. After finding out that the theme was about suicide, I was expecting to read a book that either glorified or condemned the act. It was great to see that this book took neither sides and instead, stood out on its own in a way that balances both ends of the spectrum.

I really enjoyed the way the story was structured as I could almost visualize hearing Hannah’s cassettes in real life. In many ways, the cassettes felt like an insight into her thoughts and feelings which led to her decision to take her own life. It served as a way of giving a voice to Hannah and making her relatable; even though her character wasn’t present.

Having read both endings, it is suffice to say that each had it’s own way of wrapping up the story. Though I’ve read many reviewers who don’t like the alternate ending, I felt that they both had their pros and cons. For the original ending, it felt like Hannah’s story had given Clay a chance to help save another person from falling off the deep end. But in the alternate ending, I did feel like it was Clay’s chance at a do-over with Hannah, which was sweet and hopeful though not impactful.

I’m not an expert who understands anything about the concept of suicide and I do not claim to know a lot about it. As a rather controversial subject that has adults on edge, teenage suicides are not uncommon. In most ways, Thirteen Reasons Why serves as an instrument to better understand the high school culture and factors that quite commonly breaks a teenager’s self-esteem and confidence. For me, it serves as a reminder to reach out when someone doesn’t seem like themselves as a little concern can definitely go a long way.

Rating

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