Clay Jensen receives a box in the mail and is surprised to discover it contains cassette tapes from his crush Hannah Baker who recently took her own life. In it is a letter telling Clay that there are 13 reasons why she decided to end her life, he is one of them, and he must listen to the tapes to find out why. So unfolds the descent into despair chronicled by Hannah on the tapes. As Clay listens he discovers the other people involved in Hannah’s decision and why-starting with the boy she had a crush on who met her in the park where they kissed and he spread rumours telling of much more and ending with an accident that could have been prevented.
This book was fascinating and the premise unique. Hannah tells in a no holds barred way exactly how these little events involving each person which wouldn’t seem like a big deal on their own snowball into something bigger when placed together-something Hannah feels she can’t overcome. Asher deals with the issue of teenage suicide and the downward spiral into depression with a frankness and sensitivity shown in Hannah’s character that sucks the reader right in. I read this book in one sitting and stayed up until 2 am on a weekday when I had to go to work the next day to finish it. The book made me think of Phoebe Prince- the young girl from South Hadley Massachusetts who killed herself after being bullied to the point of feeling there was no other way out. Although it wasn’t exactly the same I did see parallels in Hannah’s story and in that of the real life Phoebe. I especially liked at the end of the book where Clay recognizes the same signs he missed in Hannah in another student and decides to reach out. Here's hoping that teenagers who read this book will take something from it and do the same if they recognize a Hannah or a Phoebe in their school. I think this is a book that will stay with me for awhile.