A novel by Jay Asher
From the official Th1rteen R3asons Why website:
SYNOPSISClay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box 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. 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. Through Hannah and Clay's dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.
A shoebox-sized package is propped against the front door at an angle. Our front door has a tiny slot to shove mail through, but anything thicker than a bar of soap gets left outside. A hurried scribble on the wrapping addresses the package to Clay Jensen, so I pick it up and head inside. I take the package into the kitchen and set it on the counter. I slide open the junk drawer and pull out a pair of scissors. Then I run a scissor blade around the package and lift off its top. Inside the shoebox is a rolled-up tube of bubble-wrap. I unroll that and discover seven loose audiotapes. Each tape has a dark blue number painted in the upper right-hand corner, possibly with nail polish. Each side has its own number. One and two on the first tape, three and four on the next, five and six, and so on. The last tape has a thirteen on one side, but nothing on the back. Who would send me a shoebox full of audiotapes? No one listens to tapes anymore. Do I even have a way to play them? The garage! The stereo on the workbench. My dad bought it at a yard sale for almost nothing. It's old, so he doesn't care if it gets coated with sawdust or splattered with paint. And best of all, it plays tapes. I drag a stool in front of the workbench, drop my backpack to the floor, then sit down. I press Eject on the player. A plastic door eases open and I slide in the first tape.
Wow. Powerful stuff.
Karlene gave me this book and Tuesday I wasn't feeling very well, so I pulled it out to read. That was about 8 in the morning. I put it down about 6 that evening when I finished it. As a counselor it is a book I feel all counselors should read. In fact, I think everyone that deals with children, or other people for that matter, should read it. Because it is that powerful.
This book deals with the suicide of a high school student and the 13 reasons that she pinpoints as being the catalyst for her ending her life. But at the same time she acknowledges that there is more than those 13 reasons and even she cannot understand it all herself. She asks for help, but no one is able to see or hear her cries for help. Mostly because they are all caught up in their own mini drama of life, like most teens they all believe the world revolves around them. Leaving no one and nothing to revolve around anyone else.
If you want a happy, feel good book this is not the one for you. This book deals with raw emotions and some ugly, real thoughts and feelings that teens have. It pulls no punches and sometimes the descriptions are a bit on the graphic side. However, I do not feel that those graphic descriptions are gratuitious, but are necessary to the novel and the understanding of Hannah's reasons. And her reasons for remaining silent or unclear in her communications with others.
As a counselor I want Hannah's guidance counselor to ask different questions. The hard questions. The questions he only hints at. Because I never want to be that counselor. The one that is afraid to ask the hard questions. The unspeakable questions. The questions that will make me responsible to deal with it. Because I want to deal with it. And help the students deal with it. Because life for teens is getting harder and harder and the war they are fighting, whether they know it or not, is escalating. And if I am afraid to say it out loud in my office, it will not make it go away. In fact it will just make it harder. And for that reason I am angry at Mr. Porter, the counselor in the book. He blew it. But in reality, Hannah didn't make it easy, either.
To Mr. Asher I say- Well done. I look forward to more from you in the future.
(and tonight, Tuesday when I am writing this post, I am feeling a bit overwhelmed as a counselor because I just found out that another of our students died during the holiday break. That makes 2 students since August and another 16ish have lost parents since the beginning of the year.)