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Thirteen Reasons Why    by Jay Asher Amazon.com order for
Thirteen Reasons Why
by Jay Asher
Order:  USA  Can
Razorbill, 2007 (2007)
Hardcover
* * *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Dealing with the topic of teen suicide, Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why is an emotional rollercoaster ride that will deeply impact every teen reader. Asher's ingenious method of storytelling is fraught with suspense and feelings of hopelessness, but ends with a tinge of hope.

Clay Jensen comes home from school one day to find a package of seven cassette tapes on his doorstep with no return address and no message. Intrigued, Clay finds a tape player and starts listening. The tapes are from Hannah Baker, a girl in his class who killed herself two weeks earlier. Each side of each tape details a reason for why she ended her life, and each person who receives the tapes has an episode devoted to them.

Clay knew Hannah. She was in his first-period English class, they worked together over the summer at the movie theatre, and they shared a kiss at a party for a mutual friend. However, Clay cannot think of anything he did that could have led towards Hannah's death. As he listens to the tapes, he begins to understand what he did, even before the tapes get to his story. Filled with a myriad of feelings loss, helplessness, anger Clay cannot do anything but stick with Hannah as she tells her tale. By the end of the tapes, Clay's life has be intrinsically changed ... hopefully for the better.

Considering that this is Asher's debut novel, he does a superb job of weaving together two stories into one, with Clay narrating while Hannah speaks through her tapes. While Clay is the catalyst for getting the story out, Hannah is really the main character. It is her tale that will strike home with the majority of readers, either from having some of the same feelings as she does, or doing the types of things that could lead to being one of her thirteen reasons. Because of this, Thirteen Reasons Why is a very powerful tale not only about teen suicide, but also about the effects of rumors.

While not the happiest of novels, Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why is a must-read for any teenager. It is a book that can lead to more open discussion about topics that many would like to ignore.

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