“No one knows for certain how much impact they have on the lives of others,” Hannah Baker tells us as we listen along with Clay Jenkins to the cassette tapes he found on his front porch upon his arrival home from school. The reader, along with Clay, is intrigued at first. What do these mystery tapes contain? The answer to this question is immediately revealed once the first tape is popped in.
What follows is Hannah’s side to stories and rumors and how they all culminate in her decision to end her life. They are a snowball effect as she calls them.
I was hooked to this book from the start of Cassette One- Side A and after that first side I thought, word for word, the above quote. It was chilling when I read Hannah’s same thought. This book took me back to high school; to reputations and rumors and how those effect not just the person they are about but those who hear it, their perception of you.
Hearing Hannah’s reasons and Clay’s reactions makes for quite an emotional rollercoaster which caused me to tear up more than once. It was amazing to see things unravel into a perfectly tangled web and learn person by person the reasons why she had made this decision which won’t be able to be undone.
The way the book is written allows the reader to hear the tapes along with Clay, while simultaneously hearing his stream of consciousness. We piece together events as he does, silently realizing the degree of separation at their high school is a lot smaller than he ever imagined.
This is a book that shows how easy it is to shatter someone without meaning to or knowing that you’ve done it and how it is even easier to do so intentionally. 13 Reasons Why addresses this issue head on. Without ever straying from the subject. Jay Asher paints such a vivid picture of suffering for us that it is quite easy to feel for Hannah as she connects events that take place both at school and outside of it. The pain is evident.
This is a story that will make you think twice before you speak and act. This is a story that will make you aware of those around you. This is a story that will stay with you for quite some time.
This is a story to which I give five out of five books.