Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers cassette tapes made 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. (quoted from Barnes & Noble website)
"Sir?" she repeats. "How soon do you want it to get there?"
Oh, this book. It tore me apart and reduced me to tears, and yet I adore it so much, because it feels so real and gritty and doesn't sugar-coat anything. Jay Asher's writing is simply superb - I was drawn into Clay and Hannah's lives instantly. And as soon as I finished the novel, I had a terrifying moment when I realized that there could be a Hannah at my school, and I could be one of the reasons she decided to end her life. Without it even being intentional, I could make a light comment or casual remark and send this person's whole world crashing down. It's kind of horrifying to realize the immense power you can have over someone's psyche. The story is narrated both by Clay and by Hannah, and over the course of the book, I realized that while Hannah was already gone, I understood her almost better than I did Clay, the narrator who was actually alive. She tells her story with such pain and clarity that you can't help but sympathize with her, to agree with her as she strips down the layers of hypocrisy and lies and social drama that surround her classmates and show them for what they really are, in the end: people who drove her to such despair that she ended her own life. Although the thirteen people who caused Hannah to commit suicide were, of course, subjected to my instant anger, it was also hard not to sympathize with them, and not just because twelve other people were finally learning how twisted up and cruel they were. No, it was hard not to sympathize with them because many of the decisions they made, the ones that made Hannah feel like an outcast and shut her out and tore her down, were decisions that I felt like I could have made. Not that I would ever want to, but if I had no idea about the consequences of my actions, I would be perfectly easy making those decisions or saying those things. Like being friends with someone and then ditching that person and moving on to a better friend. I've done that, but until I read this novel, I never realized the true depth of hurt it can cause someone to hear that they're not good enough, that they're being cast off like an outfit that's not trendy anymore. That's probably the nicest thing that happens to Hannah as one of her reasons. Also, the suspense in this book was the kind that constantly keeps you wondering and fearing, for the characters, but also for yourself, because you have no idea how the next development will make you feel. The novel is just a roller coaster ride of emotions, of highs and lows and humor and loss and deep, bittersweet feeling. It's powerful and honest and touching, and readers will no doubt see themselves in these pages in one way or another. It's not an easy read. It made me put it down quite a few times because I wasn't quite sure I wanted to know what was coming, or because I had to wipe the tears from my eyes, but I always picked it back up again, if only because I felt that I owed that much to Hannah Baker.