Book Review: Thirteen Reasons Why

Thirteen Reasons Why
Picture: Goodread

Yes, this book is exactly what the title suggests. – thirteen reasons why a girl ended her life. I must have been in some mood to pick up this book. But, I am glad I did.

Hannah Baker killed herself and she has left thirteen reasons orderly recorded in audiotapes. Clay Jensen, the protagonist, is one of those unlucky people who receives the unfortunate tapes. After coming home from school, he finds those audiotapes wrapped neatly inside a package. There are seven of them, each numbered on both sides with nail polish, except for the last one which has only the number thirteen.

On playing the first tape, these words come tumbling out – “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 are one of the reasons why.” It is undeniably Hanna Baker and she has some rules for these tapes. In the recordings, all the people who drove her to suicide are numbered along with reasons. Therefore, each person has to listen to all of those tapes and then send it to the person after them on the list. Apparently, there is a second set of those tapes, which will be released in a very public manner if the tape does not make it to the last of them.

Throughout the story, there is simultaneous dual narrative, one eerie voice of Hannah Baker from the cassettes and the other of Clay’s. It gives life to the story as Clay travels to all the places that Hannah mentions in the tapes and we can see how he reacts to the things she says. Clay has had a crush on Hannah since forever and he cannot fathom why he is on the list. The two-way perspective keeps things interesting. There was never a dull moment and I felt like every little thing was leading up to a final point.  Sometimes the lines were too intense and too painful. Sometimes the book made me want to curl up and cry. It was an emotional ride.

Hannah Baker tells us that suicide for her was not an impulsive decision. It was not a single huge reason that she decided to end her life. It was series of inconsequential actions which snowballed into a huge blow. Some people might not like this story and think that the reasons for her suicide are not good or real enough. But, if you look at it closer and resonate with the character, you can see that all of those reasons were slowly but surely pushing her closer to the edge.

I loved how the story was told in pieces that all somehow fit together in the end and told a sad story. Hannah was angry, she was sad, and she was brutally honest. Her decision to leave those tapes was, to be honest, kind of mean and cruel. Why would she destroy another thirteen people’s lives? On the other hand, sometimes it felt like those people deserved it. It somewhat even felt like a revenge story at some point. However, it must have been a way for Hannah to let those people know that they were responsible for driving her over the edge.

This book will give you a different perspective on how your actions can affect other people around you. It will make you question how your actions might have affected someone else. I would not recommend this to a skeptical person, you might find it too incredulous and sketchy at times but if you can sympathize with Hannah, it is an utterly devastating and moving story.