Friday, December 7, 2012

Friday Flashback: Thirteen Reasons Why

Books don't have to be new to be deserving of a review! On Fridays I flashback to some of my favorite books of all-time.

Thirteen Reasons Why (Th1rteen R3asons Why) by Jay Asher



Seriously?  How has it taken me this long to do a Friday Flashback post about Thirteen Reasons Why? I don't know.  I must apologize for this oversight. I'm sorry.  I wrote a post about the book two and a half years ago, but I didn't review it.  So here we go!

There are thirteen reasons why Hannah Baker decided to kill herself.  Clay Jensen is one of them. And he has no idea why.  He never did anything to Hannah, except have a crush on her.  To understand what happened, he must listen to a series cassette tapes, left in a box on his front porch.  The tapes were recorded by Hannah prior to her suicide. Each tape is addressed to a different person and explains how that person contributed to Hannah's decision to end her life.  Clay spends a long night listening to the tapes, trying to come to grips with what Hannah has done and what he, and others did to contribute to Hannah's pain.

When I first read this book (at the recommendation of a librarian friend) it was a few months after the hardcover release, and the "buzz" was fairly limited to librarians and folks in the "YA" know.  I was blown away.  I found myself riveted to the sections of text that are Hannah's audio, unable to put the book down.  When Clay's "voice" broke in, I was right there with him, shouting "No! You didn't have to!" and "But, couldn't you...?" or "Why didn't you...?" right along with Clay.  I was confused.  I was angry.  I was disappointed.  Not by the book, but AT the book.  I have been known, in the past, to become deeply invested in the characters in a book.  And this one takes the cake.  Even though I knew that Hannah had already killed herself after recording the tapes, I found myself hoping she would change her mind.

Two summers ago, after it hit the New York Times Bestseller List, articles about the book were hitting mainstream publications and hold lists at libraries were out the wazoo, my book club decided to read Thirteen Reasons Why.  I decided that instead of doing a re-read of the print novel, I would listen to the audio book.  I'd heard that it was exceptionally good and that they had used two voice actors to read so that there was a clear distinction between Hannah's voice on the tapes and Clay's voice/thoughts.  Holy wow!  This book was meant to be an audio book.  I listened to the entire NINE!HOUR! audio book in one sitting (while in the car on the way to vacation).  I highly recommend "reading" it as an audio book.

Ooh!  And there's a great interactive website that supports the book, with cool things like the map that Clay follows, discussion questions, and recordings of the tapes.  Definitely check that out.

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