by Victoria Testa
As far as I can tell, there has yet to be an encouraging novel about high school. They all make it seem that the world of high school is only bullies, drama, and gossip (and that’s just the vampires). Actual learning seems out of orbit in most books. However, at the end of these novels, the hero finds an unexpected love, defeats the bullies, and gets into their dream college (although, as far as I can tell, they have never set foot inside a classroom).
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher is in some ways similar to these books. It is full of rumors, bullies, and backstabbing. However, our hero never makes it to the fairytale ending that most teen books promise.
Clay Jensen receives a shoe-box size package on his doorstep. He opens it happily to find seven audiotapes, numbered on each side. As he plops the first tape in and presses play, he realizes that this is not a happy surprise. The tapes contain the voice of Hannah Baker, a girl who killed herself two weeks ago. She continues to say that receiving the tapes means that you are one of the reasons she committed suicide.
Clay follows Hannah’s voice and map around town, awaiting the fateful appearance of his name. Hannah’s voice seems to be able to pull Clay anywhere. She was his first love. She disappeared. As much as each tape breaks Clay’s heart, he has to know why she did this, and why he is at fault. As I read this book, I could hear Hannah’s voice in my head. She was someone I could have known. Maybe even, someone I could have been friends with. To me, her voice wasn’t eerie or angry. Her voice was clear and maybe a little relieved. She knew what she was doing. That was the scariest part.
Clay’s pain and confusion throughout the book is portrayed in every line. I could really picture Clay, always the good guy, scared of hurting the one person he never meant to hurt. Along the road, Clay sees untrue rumors and unforgivable acts through Hannah’s eyes. What has Clay done? Why is he on this list?
Hannah’s instructions for the tapes are: “You listen and pass it on.” I devoured the book from cover to cover. Now, I’m passing it on to you. Passing this book on is a burden and a blessing. As much as this story is painful to read, it is even more agonizing to keep it to yourself. If you want to know what Clay did, read this book. The answer will definitely surprise you.
Thirteen Reasons Why is not a book to be picked up for some light reading. It will make you cry so hard that you are out of tears, only to bawl your eyes out in a few more pages. This book will consume your life far after you have finished the final page, and make you question everything you thought you knew.
This is not a story about death. At its core, Thirteen Reasons Why is a love letter to everyone who has ever been hurt. It is a pat on the back, and a shoulder to cry on. It is a story about what it means to be human, all the laughter, tears, and life lessons included. However many lessons Thirteen Reasons Why will teach you, the main idea is simple. Sometimes the most important thing we can do in life is sit there and press pause.
Victoria Testa lives in New York City but is a beach bum at heart. When not writing or reading, she can be found surfing, swimming, and singing!