Saturday, July 3, 2010

51. Thirteen Reasons Why - Jay Asher

Penguin, 2007
HC $16.99
paperback at $9.99 will be out on Oct. 1, 2010
288 pages
for: YA
Rating: 5

This was an extraordinary, powerful book. It was also written in an extremely interesting -- and different -- way.

Two weeks after Hannah Baker commits suicide, Clay Jensen receives an anonymous shoebox in the mail with 13 cassette tapes inside. When he listens to the first tape, he discovers that these are recordings that Hannah made just before her death, and the tapes are being sent to the 13 people who played a part in her decision.

The book is told in two voices, but they are intertwined with each other. The words that Sarah is saying on the tapes are in italics. The words that Clay is thinking or saying, as he listens, are in regular font:

"I slide across the bench to the aisle, then stand up in the moving bus.

The first to drop out was Alex. We were friendly when we saw each other int he halls, but it never went beyond that.
At least, with me it didn't.

Bracing my hands against the backrests, I make my way to the front of the shifting bus.

Now down to the two of us, Jessica and me, the whole thing changed pretty fast. The talks became chitchat and not much more.

"When's the next stop?" I ask. I feel the words leave my throat, but they're barely whispers above Hannah's voice and the engine.
The driver looks at me in the rearview mirror.

Then Jessica stopped going, and though I went to Monet's a few more times hoping one of them might wander in, eventually I stopped going, too.

It's a heartbreaking story. I can't imagine a reader not shedding at least one silent tear here or there. But it's a powerful one, and extremely interesting. I started it this afternoon and read nonstop until I was finished. I haven't done that in one heck of a long time. Wow.

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