Asher, Jay. Thirteen reasons why, a novel

Asher, Jay. Thirteen reasons why, a novel

Myrna Marler

ASHER, Jay. Thirteen reasons why, a novel. Penguin, Razorbill. 288p. c2007. 978-1-59514-171-2. $16.99. JS

Suicide is a leading cause of death in teens. Some leave notes to explain. Others exit leaving only their bodies behind. The suicide in this book secretly bequeaths 13 tapes to be passed on to 13 persons explaining the connected reasons why she chooses death. The recipient and protagonist of this novel is 16-year-old Clay Jensen, who claims at the beginning that he hardly knew Hannah. It takes hours to listen to these tapes as well as to follow the map Hannah has conveniently provided so each recipient can examine the spot of her humiliation, disillusion or betrayal. Yet, inexplicably (there is the vague threat that if the recipient doesn’t listen, the tapes will be made public in some unspecified way), each recipient follows Hannah’s instructions. The reasons combine finally into two: people’s indifference to the sufferings of others, and that girls are often treated badly by insensitive boys who think of them as objects or conquests. Well, these are facts of life to keep in mind when trying to live honorably and alleviating the pain of others. Nevertheless, the framework of this story is cumbersome and confusing; the suspense is manufactured (at periodic strategic intervals Clay has to take off his headphones); the cast of characters is dizzying, and the intent of Hannah’s tapes is to send all the recipients on a giant guilt trip, trips most people aren’t willing to take. And all in all, Hannah’s 13 reasons don’t add up to a good enough reason for her mysterious death. But then, other people’s reasons for suicide never do seem justifiable to observers. The message that people should try harder to take care of each other is good, but in spite of the book’s unique structure, it sure takes Clay a while to figure it out. Myrna Marler, Assoc. Prof. of English, BYU, Laie, HI

J–Recommended for junior high school students. The contents are of particular interest to young adolescents and their teachers.

S–Recommended for senior high school students.

COPYRIGHT 2007 Kliatt

COPYRIGHT 2007 Gale Group