Goodreads synopsis: Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier. On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out how he made the list.
This is one of those books that’s been on my “to read” list for as long as I can remember. I picked it up at the library yesterday afternoon and sat down and read half of it. Then I went to grocery store and came back and read the rest. It was so suspenseful, I had to know everything right away.
I really did love this book. The idea seemed far-fetched to me at first. Would people really continue to pass on these tapes? I would if they were given to me, but I don’t know that others would do the same. I guess the motivation is that they don’t want people to find out what they did that got them on the tapes, but I don’t know that they would actually believe that everyone would find out if they didn’t pass them on. Tapes would a difficult medium to spread rapidly, and I would figure that if Hannah was really so alone, there would be no one to actually be watching them and making sure they did what they were supposed to. But there was. Which was the great thing about this book. I had so much affection for Clay and Tony. They just seemed like such genuinely good people, and I felt glad to be able to meet them. (That sounds weird because like, this is fiction, but that’s how I feel.)
I kept thinking about how if something like this had happened at my high school, I highly doubt that I would have been on the list of people to get the tapes, but if I had found out that they existed, I would have done anything to be able to listen to them. I have a bad habit of wanting to know things about people even if it doesn’t affect me at all. Not for gossip purposes. I just need to be in the know, I guess. And I would have known that the tapes would be so intimate, I would be dying to hear them. So I think a large part of why I enjoyed reading this was that I felt like, in this world, I knew something that only a few other people knew, and that felt good to me. (Yeah. Fiction. I really am aware of that.)
The only thing that really bugged me (that I understand would have been hard to do any other way) was the way the book switched so rapidly between Hannah’s tapes and Clay’s thoughts. Yeah, they were clearly distinct because of the italics and whatever, but I kept accidentally reading Clay’s thoughts as Hannah’s voice and vice versa, especially when it was one or two lines of each back and forth for a while. But mostly, I feel very glad that this book exists. I bet it’s saved at least a couple lives, and that’s really the greatest goal that an author can achieve. Plus, the concept is so unique, and the fact that the character we know most about is one that we never meet and never can meet makes the story so much more sad. We never had a chance to help her because by the time we knew who she was, she was already gone. Clay says it was her choice to end her life, but it wasn’t. Severe mental illnesses don’t give you much of a choice at all. So, on that note, definitely read this, because it could save your life, or it could teach you how to save someone else’s.