Book Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by: Jay Asher

Thirteen Reasons Why
Publisher: Razorbill
Publish Date: 18 October 2007
Origins: Purchased
Format: Hardcover

Jay Asher's brilliant first novel is a moving, highly original story that focuses on a set of audiotapes made by a girl before she committed suicide, and which explain to 13 people the reasons why she decided to end her life. Told in a highly effective duel narrative -- alternating between the girl s voice and the thoughts of a boy who is listening -- this honest, poignant story reveals how other people's actions shape, and by extension can ruin, an individual's faith in people. Intensely powerful and painfully real, Thirteen Reasons Why reveals how brutal high school can be, the consequences of spreading rumors, and the lasting effects of suicide on those left behind

In moments like these I wish I was an artist, a writer who can twist words into emotions, and emotions into feelings. I wish I could accurately articulate the depth of what this book did to me after I read it, I don't know how it will come out but I will try to tell you.

I just finished the book, after I closed the cover I immediately gchatted my friend Susan, who told me to read this book, and we chatted for a minute. She made a point about section of the book and I agreed with her  and then she asked "And..." and I told her exactly "I have nothing. I am just sitting here staring slack jawed at my computer trying to decide if I should just cry and be done with it or not." and then "I probably will...I teared up at one point but I feel like I need a good cry and an ice cream sandwich."

Yes, just like that, this book reduced me to incoherence, tears, and the driving need for emotional stability that is chocolate. I also made the either very intuitive or very stupid decision to listen to a bit of the audiobook, the first tape. The audio did not have the same effect as the book, I think it may be because I was still in emotional turmoil from the actual reading. 

Mr. Asher wove a tale so compelling the emotions Clay felt as he listens gets ripped from you as you read. The tension, the love, the guilt, and the driving need to help this girl, for someone to help her, anyone, each one there for Clay and each one will touch you as well. I fell in love with Clay, the exact way that Hannah did, he is the good guy, the guy that did nothing wrong yet felt like everything was his fault. I fell in love with Hannah, for the quite way she held herself together, for the little observations she made about people, for the love she held for Clay. I fell in love with them both and wished I could change the ending of their story, just so I can feel that it won't happen to someone else, to anyone else, and to possibly imagine that he helped her, that he got to her in time.

I think the most emotional point for me was when Clay listened to his part in the story. Something eased in me then, as you read you are waiting for his part, the whole time falling in love with him but hoping that he couldn't do something so horrible as contribute to a girl's suicide. It's nerve wracking and it strips you down to your soul. I think the way you feel about this book says a lot about you, what however, I don't know yet, still working that one. I can't say I enjoyed this book, reading it was as enjoyable as being in a thunderstorm, you know what is coming yet you are powerless to look away from it even as it crashes around you. The beauty, the maelstrom, and the cooling rain it brings touches you but at the same time the thunder makes your nerves jump and the lightening frightens you when it gets close. 

The emotions this book evoked scared me. The subject a bit to close to home, even though I am not a teenager, nor have ever thought about suicide. I am glad I read this book and I would recommend it to anyone and everyone. It is powerful, amazing, awing, and absolutely beautiful.

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  1. Extremely thoughtful review. I'm so glad you loved this book.

  2. Awesome review! You could not have said it any better. I felt exactly the same way you did when I read this book. To this day, I still think about this book. It was powerful.

  3. Fabulous review. And I second your reactions! (Especially the hoping that Clay hadn't done something horrible to contribute to Hannah's suicide.) I found the story so seamlessly woven together that the deep emotions evoked during it emerged slowly for me, but then like crazy AFTER reading it! Which almost seemed a bit unfair...I wasn't prepared for it!

    If you're interested, I recently did an author interview with him in which he is absolutely hilarious. Which I was also not prepared for...the author of 13RW being hysterical?!

    :-) Great review.


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