Usually, I let a book stew for a few hours, or even a couple days, before I write about it. Tonight, I was to write about a great new mystery I read two nights ago. With a very late, light dinner done, I feel I must ignore my mystery for one more day and write about Thirteen Reasons Why.
Thirteen Reasons Why begins with Clay Jensen emotionally drained after a night of listening to seven mysterious tapes delivered to his house the night before. To his surprise, the tapes were recorded by Hannah Baker, a classmate who recently committed suicide. Hannah begins her recording, thirteen tape sides, by telling the listener if they received the tapes they played a part in her decision to kill herself.
Clay, who had always admired Hannah from afar, spends a gut-wrenching night listening to Hannah explain in her own words the events that led to her decision to take her own life. In the end, he is left to question what he could have done differently and why Hannah didn’t see the people who wanted to help.
Like Clay, I spent an entire night with Hannah’s story. Also like Clay, I could not stop once I started- even skipping dinner until the last page was read. As an adult, I struggled with the lack of scope. Asher did succeed in making me understand her depression and hopelessness. I am not so old to have forgotten how awful it can be to be a teenager and feel no one knows what you are going through.
We live in a time when campaigns like “It Gets Better” are trying to reach out to young people who feel alienated and alone. Asher’s book is a beacon for those who struggle and those who want to understand.