Thursday, February 17, 2011

Book Hungry: 13 Reasons Why

Well ladies and gentlemen, its that time of the month again.  The Book Hungry Club is back with another review.  This month, at Patty Blount's suggestion, we read 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher.

I have been sitting here wondering how to put into words how riveting this story was.  And I have been having a really difficult time with that.  The main reason is, I can't tell you why I liked it.  Normally when I am taken by a story there is a reason, and a very compelling one at that.  Not so this book.  In fact the subject matter of this book is very dark.

Teen Suicide. (Gulp)

Now, don't get me wrong, I am not a shrinking violet who thinks that topics such as teen suicide should not be written about, quite the contrary.  But there was something, no, is something about this story that had me pondering it for days after I actually finished the read.

Here is the synopsis I borrowed from the official website.

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several 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.

After spending considerable time I realized the reason I thought the story was good was because I was still fixated on it days after I finished reading it.  I didn't know if I was supposed to feel bad or be angry at Hannah.  How could I not know?

Was Hannah's act of creating the tapes heroic or just a final way to stick it one last time to these people, she perceived, were the reason she decided to end her life. 

In the end, after days of writing this review in my mind I finally figured out why I thought this was one of the best young adult stories I have read this year.  Because when it was all said and done, Jay Asher left it up to me.  I got to determine if Hannah was a victim or not.  

Normally I give away the book we read to one lucky reader.  This month I am straying from my norm and am instead giving a copy to each of my teenage nieces.  I am going to encourage them to read it so we can talk about it.  Because if nothing else, it did make me wonder, do they ever feel the way she did? Because if so, I want them to know they can talk to me anytime.


Laura Pauling said...

I read this book last year. And yes, it was really good!

Linda G. said...

Sounds like a worthy, if painful, read. I can see how it would be useful in opening a dialogue with teens about a difficult subject.

Patty Blount said...

Oh my God! That's IT! You nailed it. The author left it up to us. I just slapped my head that this did not occur to me.

Karla Nellenbach said...

you hit the nail on the head, Kelly. Very nice review :)

abby mumford said...

very grand review, kelly, but more importantly, i love that you're giving the book to your teenage nieces. they're lucky to have an aunt like you.

and p.s. your statement about asher leaving the ending up to us - spot on and the more i think about it, the more i'm agreeing with elizabeth's comments re: hannah. she made herself a victim. good thing clay was in there because my views on this book are becoming less rosy and more real.

Candyland said...

This is an important book for many reasons, not just the suicide but I also agree with it being left up to the reader. I, for one, felt ultimately it was Hannah's choice, not the actions of others, that made me more mad. But with teen suicide on the rise, it happens more often than we want to believe. Sad, sad story. But Jay rocks.

Elizabeth Ryann said...

I think that's a wonderful choice, Kelly, and your nieces are lucky to have such a cool aunt.

And I agree! Hannah's legacy is the reader's to determine. There's no lecturing. Which is an interesting way to take it. Lovely review.