Two days. That’s how long it took for me to finish this book. I’ve always loved reading. Ever since a young child, I would one-by-one zip my way through numerous stories, in awe by the great imagery and detail and great emotion that poured through each syllable. And this book wasn’t completely different. A pretty easy read at that. But what laid behind those simple words captured my attention. Every sentence, every thought held so much meaning that I’m not quite sure it fits in the same category as other stories I’ve read. Two days for Thirteen tapes. That’s all it took.
We don’t really think about or look at the itsy bitsy details in life. Yet, only with little strokes and details are we able to paint the picture, the final masterpiece. That’s what this story is about. The littlest things that ultimately drove someone to suicide; this someone being Miss Hannah Baker. And how this story is illustrated? Through the appearance of thirteen mysterious tapes stashed in a box with no return label. In the perspective of Clay Jensen, we listen and hear Hannah’s thoughts through the tapes, what goes on through her mind as she begins and finishes her journey to death. Thirteen tapes for the thirteen reasons or the thirteen individuals who lie responsible for Hannah’s death. And each of those thirteen must receive the tapes because they are in someway responsible.
From start to finish: suspenseful, mesmerizing, addictive. Rather than using one person’s voice and thoughts to tell the story, Jay Asher uses an ultimately different style of writing, highlighting various perspectives and thoughts. Through Hannah’s voice in the tapes, we feel as if we’re there with Clay, listening and waiting for what happens next. We forget that she isn’t alive, though she is. We wait for the next person to be revealed, anticipating for her speech about Clay and how he is tied in with Hannah’s story. And in between her story, we hear Clay’s thoughts, his grief, his cry. And in the end, we know why she chose to die, and we mourn with Clay. We and Clay, we are one person.
Jay Asher’s novel not only draws us into the story, but pulls us into reality altogether. Hannah’s story teaches a memorable lesson, that every little thing, every little detail matters. You never know if your words are going to cheer someone up and make someone’s day or if they will strike someone in the gut, shattering their already broken heart. This novel makes you think twice about your words and how it could affect another person.
Although some may not like this style of writing or may not like suspense or mystery type novels, I would still recommend this book at least to those who do enjoy these types of stories or anyone open to book recommendations or want to step out of their comfort zone. This novel really opened my eyes to reality and allowed me to feel and experience how the little things in life changed one person’s life; how someone faced the thought of suicide and gave in because there was no one around to help. If we actively spread this message, spread this novel for others to read, we could change millions of lives. This novel could truly change the world.
Book Review by Karen Xu