Note: Another GoodReads review. I'm trying to catch up on the books I've read, but never did post about. Thirteen Reasons Why
by Jay Asher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was the common reading book for the June 09 residency of the Seton Hill Writing Popular Fiction Masters of Arts (now Masters of Fine Arts) program, as a study in Young Adult fiction.
There were painful things about this book, as it is all about high school and what kids do to each other therein. It's also about a young woman's decent into depression and suicide. Hannah Baker, a girl from Clay Jenson's school has committed suicide. She leaves behind a set of old cassette tapes on which she has recorded 13 reasons why she killed herself and each person on the tapes receives the box of them in sequence.
It's Clay's turn.
I wavered between 3 stars and 4. I can't say I liked the book, per se, but it is a well written and clever book. It alternates between the present view point of Clay Jensen, a nice kid, and Hannah's taped monologues as Clay listens to them. It pulls you in quickly and keeps you there. It's also a very fast read. You want to know who did what, as each indecent gets worse. And where is Clay on the tapes? What did he do?
So from the technical aspect of the book, it shines. It does all the things a book should do.
But as an adult, it had me curling my toes. Partly because I remember the casual cruelty of teens and there's a bit of a visceral reaction to that. Partly because poor Clay would have to live with knowing all of these things for the rest of his life.
If he were a real kid, I'd hope he talk to his parents eventually and get some therapy. Thankfully, he's just fiction.
The positive side of this book is that I do think it causes kids to stop and *think* about how what they say and do affects those around them.
The negative side was that in the end, I didn't believe Hannah's story. Oh, I think the events happened, but I didn't believe all of her reactions to them. She was the quintessential unreliable narrator. And I think what she did (especially close to the end) was horrible and selfish. She took no responsibility for her actions and shifted the blame... *all the blame* on everyone else. Did they play a part in what happened? Yes, but so did she.
If I could give it 3.5 stars I would.
I do completely get why teens would love this book, however. It's full of angst and taps so very well into the high school experience. View all my reviews >>