Sunday, June 1, 2014


Thirteen Reasons Why
At first Clay Jensen doesn't understand why a package containing 7 cassette tapes is delivered to his house.  The reason becomes clear as soon as he starts listening to the tapes.  The tapes were made by Hannah Baker, a classmate who committed suicide.  Recorded by Hannah just before her death, the tapes explain to thirteen teens just exactly what part they each played in Hannah's death.

Clay reluctantly begins listening to the tapes.  He can't fathom why he received them, but the only way to find out is to listen.  He knows when he finishes he is supposed to package them back up and send them on to the person whose story follows his.  In the meantime he knows he won't be able to stop listening until he knows the truth. 

The stories Hannah shares are disturbing and yet compelling at the same time.  As the hours pass, Clay learns about Hannah and about his fellow classmates and what people do to one another with their words and actions, sometimes intentionally and sometimes by chance.

THIRTEEN REASONS WHY by Jay Asher was published in 2007 and became an instant success.  This is my second time reading the novel but my first review.  I'm finding it difficult to put into words the true power of this YA novel.  So much is in the news about bullying and its often devastating consequences, we may have become jaded to the true power of the bully. 

After playing an audio excerpt from the book to my 10th grade English students, several of them suggested it should be a required read for all high school students.  I will be including it in my curriculum next year, hence the need to reread it.  I am interested and a bit anxious about the discussion it will stimulate next year.  It will no doubt make a lasting impression on some students.

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