“I hope you’re ready, because I’m about to tell you the story of my life. More specifically, why my life ended. And if you’re listening to these tapes, you’re one of the reasons why.”
Jay Asher is an American writer of contemporary novels for teens. He has published 2 books as of date, Thirteen Reasons Why & The Future of Us. Thirteen Reasons Why is a young adult fiction book originally published on December 27, 2007 by Penguin Books. It is now also made into a TV series by Netflix with Selena Gomez being one of the executive producers. Thirteen Reasons Why tells the tale of Clay Jensen returning home from school one day to find a strange package waiting for him on his doorstep. Upon opening the package, he discovers a set of 7 cassette tapes with a dark blue number painted on each side. 1 & 2 reasons on the first tape, 3 & 4 reasons on the second & so on till the 13th reason on the seventh. These tapes were recorded by Hannah Baker, Clay’s classmate & crush, who had committed suicide two weeks earlier.
On the first recording, Hannah tells him that she is about to share the 13 reasons why she ended her life & that every person that receives the set of cassette tapes is one of the reasons. She sends these tapes to every person that is one of the reasons why she committed suicide & tells them they will have to listen to all 13 tapes to find out what tape brings them into the story as she does not otherwise mention. Additionally, she adds a map of their town with several locations that are red starred which she will mention for the listener to visit, if they wish to do so. Upon finishing listening to the tapes, they are to be rewinded & passed on until the last person (the 13th person) receives them. To ensure that the rules are followed by all the people on the list, she mentions that a copy of these tapes have been made & would be publicly released if the tapes are not passed down to every person. Clay spends the night listening to tape after tape, visiting each of the starred locations & what he learns about Hannah’s life pains him greatly & changes his life forever.
This book, although published 10 years ago, has made a comeback when news of the series 13 Reasons Why being premiered hit the media world. The book is great, going into such depth, building on crucial relationships like between Clay & Hannah which was important to the plot. The story has a very important plot; in today’s high school life, apart from the tensions of examinations & the day to day work, now students face increased bullying, peer pressure, harassment, anxiety & depression, & suicidal tendencies which play a crucial role in the story. Hannah Baker, the girl that committed suicide, talks about 13 people in the list of reasons behind her killing herself. The details in the stories behind each of the reasons & each involved person make it twice as hard hitting & gives the readers something to really process: “No one knows for certain how much impact they have on the lives of other people. Oftentimes, we have no clue. Yet we push it just the same.” It makes people realise that whatever you say, will really affect people, it could be something small or something so big that they decide that life is not worth living. The book gives several incidents that have, as Hannah Baker says, a snowball effect. I felt that I was part of the book & not just an aloof reader, imagining each detail in my head giving it a much more “real” feeling.