Friday, June 1, 2012

Book Review: Thirteen Reasons Why

I recently read an amazing book. Sure, it wasn't literary genius, nor was it the best written book I have ever read. However, this book offers something that others cannot, and that is a look inside the adolescent brain. Being a middle school teacher, I was highly intrigues right away by the plot of this novel, and the fact that a sixth grade girl recommended it to me means even more. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher is a book I will not soon forget, and I urge everyone who will ever work with a child to consider reading it.

The premise of this novel is compelling and rich, and the author presents it in a unique way. Hannah Baker, the character the idea book is written about, kills herself. She commits suicide. Unlike some, though, she puts a lot of thought into her own death, and she makes sure that her life doesn't go to complete waste. Instead, she ensures that she affects as many people as she can, and those people, all thirteen of them, were chosen based on things they have done to drive Hannah to kill herself. 

After Hannah's death, people at her school start receiving audio-tapes with Hannah's voice on them. She explains, tape after tape, why each person is on there, and she says that if the person listening does not pass it on to the next person on the tape (through the mail), a neutral person also has a copy and will make them public, thus acknowledging all of the horrible things each person on the tape has done.

The book is narrated by Clay, a boy Hannah knew from school. He tells the unique story of each person on the tape and what he/she did to cause Hannah to kill herself. The entire book is thought-provoking and made me think about how others see things differently. Even if you think you're doing the right thing, sometimes others don't perceive it in the same way. Adolescents are especially vulnerable to this, and every teacher, parent, mentor, etc. should read this book if they have the chance. 

(one especially thought provoking line from the book)

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher is a book I will gladly recommend to every single person who asks me for a book to read. Even if you don't work with kids, the plot applies to people of all ages. If you won't read another book this year, at least read this one. 

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