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.
It’s Banned Books week around the world! Banned Books week, if you didn’t know, is a week long celebration of the freedom to write and publish. Readers around the world take a stand against censorship by reading books that are banned from libraries or even countries to tell people that we have the right to information.
So this week, I decided to read Thirteen Reasons Why. A book that was banned because it is a book about suicide.
Now I really have no idea why it was banned. If anything, people should be putting this book front and center so that more people can learn about the signs and so that they can learn how to help someone who is trying to throw up a red flare.
But it was banned and so today, I’m going to tell you exactly why this book was so awesome and why I think it should not have been banned.
This book centers around Hannah. A girl who has recently committed suicide.
However, instead of a suicide note, she tapes a series of tapes that document exactly why she decided to commit suicide and she posts them to the different people who she feels are the most responsible for her death with the instructions to pass them on to the next person on the list.
In this book, we follow one of the people on the list, Clay Jenson, as he receives the tapes, listens to them and tracks Hannah’s story up till her death.
Clay was quite interesting because I felt like he was quite an innocent party in the whole thing. Admittedly I did get annoyed at how caught up he got in not wanting to be wrong but I can forgive him under the circumstances.
He was interesting. That’s really all I have to say about him. He was decidedly unremarkable.
Okay Hannah. I don’t know how to talk about her character. I mean I understood her. I understood that the actions of other people led her to feel isolated and wronged and like she was backed into a corner. But what I didn’t understand is how she could feel that telling these people how they basically have blood on their hands is justified especially after she killed herself.
I mean if she had recorded these tapes with the intent to put some people behind bars like they deserved to be, I would get it. But tapes recorded for the sole purpose of tormenting people and maybe even ruining their lives because they now feel responsible? I don’t get it.
Okay. I know what you’re thinking at this point. “But Cam, these people tormented Hannah to the point that she took her life. They deserve it.” And that’s where I’ll say, dear reader, that you are right. However, as the popular saying goes, ‘Two wrongs don’t make a right.’
So yes, I liked Hannah’s character. But I couldn’t support her decision to record those tapes in the first place. She’s dead. There’s nothing anyone can do about it. You want to make a tape? Make one before you kill yourself so these people can have a chance to change their ways and to give you the help you need.
Maybe it’s because I’m the type of person that just accepts things and deals with them because they are life. Maybe because I have been through so much crap but I have never wanted one single person to feel responsible (even if they clearly are responsible). Maybe that’s why I can’t understand her decision to want to blame every single person including Clay who did nothing really except try to be a friend to her. Or maybe I’m the one being short-sighted.
I don’t know but I couldn’t take the blame game she decided to play.
So yes. I admittedly didn’t enjoy the blame game. I didn’t enjoy the fact that Hannah painted herself as a victim when suicide was something that was her decision. I hated the fact that she put such a load on people who were innocent in the whole thing.
But that said, I did enjoy what the story stood for. I liked that we went away with the knowledge that it’s so important to remember that how we treat someone will snowball. It’s important because this book showed us what the red flags for a suicidal person is.
So while the execution kind of sucked, I think the message was clear and that’s really what salvaged the book in the end and the reason why I’m giving it such a high rating.