Book Review: 13 Reasons Why

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5) – Completes Me!

There may come a time when references to cassette tapes and a walkman no longer make sense, but the heart of this book, originally published in 2007 remains relevant and pertinent to the lives of young and old alike in 2022.  

I knew the premise of 13 Reasons Why because I had seen the preview for the Netflix special so when it came up on a #bannedbook list, I decided to go ahead and give it a go. Jay Asher takes the reader through a unveiling of a young women’s life as she decides to commit suicide.  She records her story on cassette tapes and we hear alongside Clay, Hannah’s voice and perspective as to her reasons why. 

The intimacy and vulnerability of both Hannah and Clay expressed in this novel are deeply impactful. I struggle to articulate how moving and visceral the literal reading of this book was for me.  The weaving of their narratives is masterfully done and the form Asher chose, in and of itself, proved his point that everything affects everything. 

As a young person, I experienced a suicide which has proven a formative moment. I often shy away from depictions of suicide in lierature as they resurrect a hurt that continues to need care and too often such stories don’t offer tender care, but judgement and condemnation. Asher’s novel offered a tenderness and a compassion for both Hannah and Clay that served as a balm to my personal wound. That of course won’t be every reader’s experience but I am grateful to have read this narrative, one of love, compassion and empathy in the face of complex and troubling situations and circumstances.

This book will not be for everyone, it might hurt some and confuse others, but in my opinion Asher holds the tension of the conflicting emotions around suicide with care and honesty. 

Happy Reading!
Hannah