Review: 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Thirteen Reasons Why

by Jay Asher

You can’t stop the future. You can’t rewind the past. The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker—his classmate and crush—who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah's voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out why.

Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah's pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.

"Everything . . . affects everything."

I haven't even picked up another book since finished Thirteen Reasons Why. This book left me with such a book hangover. It's so hard to process everything that I'm feeling, because I get where Hannah is coming from. I really do. I understand the feeling of being overwhelmed with your emotions and being able to pinpoint exactly the moments that caused you such pain, and the emptiness and loneliness you can feel because of those feelings. I truly understand not wanting to talk to anyone because you honestly believe you'll be burden to them or they won't believe you or they'll turn it around on you. Following her journey, along with Clay and his emotions through learning about what Hannah was going through and Hannah's truth compared to the rumors that were being spread among their classmates, it's completely overwhelming.

Thirteen Reasons Why is a pageturner. Once I picked it up, I read almost straight through it. The suspense will keep you turning and turning the pages because you have to know what happened to Hannah to cause her so much pain that she felt like she had nothing left and that the world would be better off without Hannah Baker.

"If you hear a song that makes you cry and you don't want to cry anymore, you don't listen to that song anymore. But you can't get away from yourself. You can't decide not to see yourself anymore. You can't decide to turn off the noise in your head."

And while I completely understand Hannah's emotions, I can't fully comprehend why she did what she did. I guess she felt like she was getting revenge on the people that caused her the pain that led to her death? It just seems like a cruel thing to do, especially to some of the people on the tapes. I felt like she caused some people more pain than they deserved, especially Clay. I guess it was good that he knew the truth of what had happened to her, but it just deepened his pain and the guilt that he felt. Most of these people could have prevented her death, so she made it seem. But could they really? She seemed very set in her decision very early on in the story. And it didn't seem to matter what anyone else said, even the ones who truly cared about her. She just shut them out completely.

"I wanted people to trust me, despite anything they'd heard. And more than that, I wanted them to know me. Not the stuff they thought they knew about me. No, the real me. I wanted them to get past the rumors. To see beyond the relationships I once had, or maybe still had but they didn't agree with. And if I wanted people to treat me that way, then I had to do the same for them, right?"

Part of me feels like this story paints a bad picture in the way of mental illnesses, especially depression and what goes on in the mind of someone who is depressed. The way that Hannah goes about dealing with her emotions, and never once taking blame for her own actions or truly seeking out help. I'm sure she was probably feeling completely alone and so numb that she just didn't really feel anything at all, and believe me I've been there. I really do understand, which makes me tell you that this is just one version of suicide and mental illness. It isn't everyone's version. And I hope that those people who have never experienced it first hand and reads this story don't immediately turn on those who have experienced it. Yes, Hannah was in the wrong for a lot of what happened in the story and the things that she did, but that was also her mental illness talking. It was her mental illness that chose to see that there was no way out, that there was only those around her to blame for her problems. And while at some point, for a couple of the things she did, she acknowledged she was in the wrong, but she still blamed others for it too. And sometimes blamed them more.

"You don't know what goes on in anyone's life but your own. And when you mess with one part of a person's life, you're not messing with just that part. Unfortunately, you can't be that precise and selective. When you mess with one part of a person's life, you're messing with their entire life."

It's definitely a tangled web we weave when it comes to mental illnesses. I do believe Jay Asher did a fantastic job at showcasing one of the many ways that depression affects the mind. But I also wish that he hadn't portrayed it in a way that is going to make readers victim blame. I can already see it coming.

Be wary when you pick up Thirteen Reasons Why. Clear your schedule. More than likely, you won't be putting it down until you're finished reading, and you won't be able to stop thinking about it when you do finish.