Book Club Pick: April 2017
Title: Thirteen reasons why
Author: Jay Asher
Series: Stand alone novel
Country: United States of America
Publisher: Penguin Group
First Published: 2008
Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker – his classmate and crush – who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decide to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.
Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and he follows her recorded words throughout town, what he discovers changes his life forever.
Thirteen Reasons Why (stylised as Th1rteen R3eason Why) follows shy high school teenager Clay Jensen.
Clay has received a box of with seven cassette tapes. Upon listening to them he learns that they were recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate, workmate at the local cinema, and his crush, who recently committed suicide.
Hannah instructs the listener that there are thirteen reasons as to why she decided to take her own life – and if they received these tapes their ‘name will pop up’.
Clay is the ninth person to receive the tapes and when he is finished he must mail them on. The novel opens with Clay posting the tapes and then cuts back to the day before, one hour after school, when Clay opens that box that will change his outlook on life.
The rest of the novel follows Clay as he travels around his small town with a Walkman and a map Hannah left with starred locations, as he listens to her final words.
The novel has a dual narrative with transcripts of Hannah’s tape recordings italicised amongst Clay’s first person narrative.
It reads very much like a thriller with the reader learning about Hannah’s pain along with Clay. There is the suspense that one has to listen to the tapes and send them to the next person otherwise all tapes will be released publicly.
As well tackling the tough issue of teen suicide the novel addresses rape, bullying, gossip, peer pressure, underage drinking, and survivor’s guilt.
On the Thirteen Reasons Why website readers can listen to Hannah’s tapes.
In 2016, a 10th Anniversary Edition entitled Th1rteen R3asons Why: A Novel was released. It featured a new introduction by Asher, the novel’s original ending, reproductions from Asher’s notebook that he used while writing, deleted moments, the synopsis he sent to publishers and a reading guide.
In 2011, Universal Studios purchased the rights to the novel with the intention to develop it into feature film starring Selena Gomez as Hannah. In 2015 it was announced that Netflix was developing the novel as a series with Gomez serving as an executive producer.
The series 13 Reasons Why went onto Netflix on March 31.
Source: I borrowed this book from my public library.