Title: Thirteen Reasons Why
Author: Jay Asher
Synopsis: “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 doesn’t want anything to do with the tapes Hannah Baker made. Hannah is dead. Her secrets should be buried with her.
Then Hannah’s voice tells Clay that his name is on her tapes– and that he is, in some way, responsible for her death.
All through the night, Clay keeps listening. He follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his small town. . .
. . .and what he discovers changes his life forever.“
Thirteen Reasons Why is about a boy, named Clay Jensen, who receives a shoebox full of cassettes (and a map) and every cassette is numbered from 1 to 7. The shoebox doesn’t have a return address, it doesn’t have anything that could possibly give away who it is from or why it is sent to Clay.
He listens to the first tape and is shocked when he hears Hannah Baker’s voice. Hannah Baker, whom Clay used to have (or still has?) a crush on. Hannah Baker, who was always the victim of false rumours. Hannah Baker, who committed suicide.
“Hello, boys and girls. Hannah Baker here. Live and in stereo. (…) No return engagements. No encore. And this time, absolutely no requests. (…) I hope you’re ready, because I’m about to tell you the story of my life. More specifically, why my life ended. And if you’re listening to these tapes, you’re one of the reasons why. (…) The rules are pretty simple. There are only two. Rule number one: You listen. Number two: You pass it on. Hopefully; neither one will be easy for you.”
– Cassette 1: Side A
This book was hauntingly beautiful.
Many of my friends (and by “many” I mean two) warned me about this book, saying that it was incredibly boring and depressing. They also told me that the reasons Hannah gave throughout the book for killing herself didn’t make sense at all, they thought they were all normal things that almost everybody encounters every day. So I wasn’t really expecting this book to be this good.
In the book, Hannah mentions “the snowball effect”. Imagine, every day, or let’s say every month, something bad happens to you. No matter how small or simple these “bad things” are, in time, they become an addition to the snowball that started with probably the simplest thing of all. Eventually, the snowball becomes huge, too big for you to handle it the right way. Then it hits you.
Hannah’s snowball was, in fact, very complex. From backstabbing friends to hands on her ass without her consent, you could find anything in it.
“Statement number one: ‘I’m only playing, Hannah.’
Translation: Your ass is my play-toy. You might think you have final say over what happens to your ass, but you don’t. At least, not as long as ‘I’m only playing.'”
“Here’s a tip. If you touch a girl, even as a joke, and she pushes you off, leave… her… alone. Don’t touch her. Anywhere! Just stop. Your touch does nothing but sicken her.”
Clay listens to these tapes in one day, while visiting the places Hannah marked in the map. He thinks that by visiting these places, he can at least feel the presence of Hannah. Also, he is trying to figure out the role he played in Hannah’s death, because he is a hundred percent sure that he didn’t do anything wrong to Hannah that could possibly lead her to killing herself.
I’m not going to tell you why Clay was in the tapes because that would require me to summarise the whole book, and I also think the book will become more mysterious and effective if you learn that when Hannah reveals it, not from someone else before reading the book.
Or maybe you can already guess it?
This book is a great example of how words and actions affect individuals around us, especially the person those words are aimed at. What you think is very simple can lead to major consequences, a consequence which you or anybody cannot bear with. Because if you keep on going, thinking you’re doing nothing but a small joke, those jokes will pile up and become a mountain. Or a huge-ass snowball, in this book’s case.
“I guess that’s the point of it all. No one knows for certain how much impact they have on the lives of other people. Oftentimes, we have no clue. Yet we push it just the same.”
Jay Asher made sure to describe what Clay was feeling while listening to these tapes, by writing what he was feeling or telling us his reaction–clenching fists, crying, choking. This also proves that suicide doesn’t only effect one individual but also his/her close ones, loved ones, family, relatives, friends. Doesn’t matter if it is just because of the shock of losing someone whom you saw almost every single day or if it is a permanent scar that’s left on your heart after losing that someone.
The story was beautiful and realistic but sometimes it was hard to keep track of what Hannah was talking about because she wasn’t telling the story clearly. There were a lot of holes in the events when she was talking and you couldn’t fill those holes until she was finished. Maybe it was to create a more mysterious aura, I don’t know, but I didn’t really like it.
In conclusion, I can say that Thirteen Reasons Why is an incredibly realistic novel which gives you an idea on how our words and actions affect people. I think everybody should read it, even if their favourite genre is not young adult, because this book has so many great things to tell you.
“You don’t know what went on in the rest of my life. At home. Even at school. 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.”