Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher
Format: Unabridged audiobook from iTunes.
Narrated By: Joel Johnstone and Debra Wiseman
Run Time: 6 hours and 24 minutes
Release Date: 27th September 2007
Published By: Listening Library
Taken From Goodreads
Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded 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.
Through Hannah and Clay's dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.
If you look in the "Top Ten Tuesdays" category of my blog (it's over b'there, as we Welshies say >>>), then you will notice that I've recently been discussing books which deal with some tough subjects. This meme, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, has opened my eyes to a whole bunch of books which others have loved and which I had not encountered. Thirteen Reasons Why was one such book.
I can see why this book came so highly recommended. I would particularly point you in the direction of the audiobook for two reasons: One: The format of Hannah's suicide note is audio. Two: the twin narrators were phenomenally well-suited to their roles. Through the beauty of the audiobook version, it seemed like Clay and Hannah were, at times, having some kind of eerie, post-mortal conversation. This made the book so much more powerful as Clay's responses to Hannah's strange suicide note are so heartfelt and genuine that you have to wonder if he might have been able to help her, if only she had given him a real chance to do so. I really enjoyed the perspective of the male protagonist. It made a nice change in a category of literature which often has a lot of female perspectives. [On this note, if you can recommend and YA fiction with a strong male voice to it, then please comment below. I've read a few but am looking for more!]
I suppose that we, as an audience, have to be able to see the chance that Hannah passed up on. The message to readers can then point out that there is always one chance of happiness left. We wouldn't want things to be too dismal now, would we? I was worried at first that, as we only get Clay's perspective on the matter, we might only see Hannah's suicidal proclivities as selfish. However, Asher and his protagonist explores perspectives on suicide and how people who try to get help can be seen as pathetic or "trying to get attention". Let's be fair, if you're trying that hard to get attention, then you might just need it.
I listened to this audiobook while I was painting my bedroom, a job I had not been looking forward to! This is why I love audiobooks, they allow you to read while getting on with the necessary chores of life. This audiobook had me mesmerised from the get-go. I know my mum would tell me to stop reading books about such dismal subject matter ('Iya mam!) because she thinks they'll make me miserable. But I find that such books often deal so excellently with the tough subjects that they turn out to be quite life affirming! Thirteen Reasons Why had such wonderful characters, a great depth of emotion and, in the end, a rather lovely message.