When he receives a package with no return address, Clay is at first excited, and pops in the first of a set of 7 tapes. Then he hears Hannah Baker’s voice, which he’d never thought to hear again because she killed herself two weeks ago. Each side of each tape is one reason why she killed herself; each side of each tape tells one person what action of theirs, no matter how small, pushed her on her way towards inevitable death. Clay cared deeply for Hannah and is horrified to realize that he is a reason why. For the space of one night, he loses himself in these tapes, unveiling the story of what pushes an innocent girl over the edge, breaking both his and my heart over again.
This book was almost painful to read at times but I found it to be extremely powerful. High school wasn’t as long ago as I would like and it’s so easy to remember how little words make a huge difference. I’m sure we all felt friendless a time or two, regardless of the reality of our situations, and it’s so easy to feel sorry for a girl who truly has no friends, whose reputation was destroyed on the basis of nothing, and who has been let down every step of the way. Parents, friends, and teachers left her with nowhere to go and to her mind, there is only one solution to end the hurt. Little actions, seemingly harmless, lead to big consequences, and Hannah’s story is heartbreaking, especially given how a smile or word could have made a huge difference in her life.
The dual narrative structure was a great way to put this book together. Hannah’s words and Clay’s thoughts intertwine and we can easily see how her misconceptions weren’t corrected because of Clay’s and her classmates’ fear. We can see firsthand both how Hannah felt about events and how those events shaped people’s perceptions of her the wrong way. Gossip is very harmful and through Clay’s thoughts we can see how that gossip destroyed Hannah’s chances at happiness.
I think this is a very important book to read. Not only is it moving, powerful, and beautifully written, but it conveys an extremely important message that may help save the life of a living person in need.
Buy Thirteen Reasons Why on Amazon.