Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher tells the story leading up to the death of Hannah Baker, a girl who learns the hard way about how people can be so unpleasant. The story is told with a series of tapes, each dedicated to a person who affected her in a way that caused her to end up committing suicide. Clay Jensen receives these tapes one day and walks around at night, visiting the places that Hannah deemed part of her story. He acts as a narrator for Hannah’s story, listening to the tapes after Hannah dies. Through these tapes, Hannah mentions how people can be one of the greatest things in the world, but also the worst. The book also links these stories together in a way that Hannah could say that each event affects another, and this greatly helps the book to flow. The storyline also demonstrates how the first event affects the second, so on and so forth.
When I had heard great reviews about Thirteen Reasons Why from people who had watched the show on Netflix, I thought that it would be one of those crazes where it only lasted for maybe a few months at most. So I didn’t think much of this. However, I had seen the book a few times, whether it was in a bookstore, or in my English classroom (there was a bookshelf of young adult books). I had read the blurb maybe once, but it didn’t spike my interest enough to actually take that book off of the shelf. Then one day, I had nothing to read, so I picked up this book. And, my word, it was worth it.
Although I think that Clay is a character that is needed in the book for the story to progress, I don’t believe that he is the greatest. For me at least, he is just the reader’s gateway into Hannah’s story. Yes, he adds to some parts of the story, but he just reacts to Hannah’s tapes, just like the reader would do when they are reading the book. To change that, I think it would be nice to get the reactions of other characters when they listen to the tape to maybe hint at their intentions of what they do in the tapes. Since every story has at least two sides, it would have been nice to have known a bit more into how they feel about their actions. Although Clay does listen to his own tapes, he is pretty insignificant compared to the other actions that the other characters commit. Despite this though, the book was wonderful. I wanted to keep reading it, to the point where I actually finished it in two or three days. It has also been the only book where I have had to put it down because I knew what was going to happen and it was too painful to read for a while. In my mind I was begging Hannah to stop, but I knew that wasn’t going to happen.
Going back to how everything flowed in the book, in the back of the book, there is an interview with Jay Asher about the book itself. He says, “The idea that everything affects everything, as Hannah said in the book, intrigued me” (Asher 292). Again, this shows that every event sparks another event, and this event can reap negative or positive consequences. In Hannah’s case, she mostly had negative consequences.
The book just goes to show how we should think twice about our actions and what consequences they will create for other people and ourselves. And also, if you ever find a suicidal person, help them in any way possible.