Tough weekend -- a touch of insomnia on Friday night, which made Saturday a living hell, complete with a sleep-deprived headache that gives new meaning to misery. Alas, no progress on FI yesterday because I was worried I might set the thing on fire with the first stumbling block I ran into. So, I rested...popped a lot of Advil. When my headache finally subsided, reading was my only option. LOL. So, I chose this book...not sure it was the right one for my particular mood, but I honestly couldn't put it down.
THIRTEEN REASONS WHY by Jay Asher
Young Adult Contemporary
Brief Summary: Clay Jensen comes home from school one day to find a package on his doorstep. In it are cassette tapes from Hannah Baker. His instructions are simple. One of these tapes is addressed to him, but he'll have to listen to them all to discover which -- and afterwards, he will need to send the tapes on to the next person on the list. The thing is, Hannah had committed suicide...and these tapes are addressed to the people who comprise the Thirteen Reasons Why.
Eeee...how can you turn away from a book with a premise like that?! Gives me chills, even now.
First, I want to talk about Asher's style. It was truly unique and pulled me right into the story. Simple...yet I'm sure infinitely complicated when it came to writing this book. What he did was give us the full text of each of these cassette tapes -- as heard by Clay, and alternated between Hannah's recorded voice and Clay's real time experiences. Wow. It was nuts and took me a bit to sink into...but honestly, it's probably the best possible way this story could've been told. It drew me in...created this sort of nervous anticipation to hear what would be coming next... kept me on edge the entire way through. Genius, I tell ya. I've never read anything like it.
The underlying tension in this book starts pretty high, but man, does it build even more as Clay makes his way through the tapes. By the end, I was literally coming out of my skin, almost wanting to scream at the girl not to do it. But I knew the ending before I began -- there is no changing what was to come. Still, I was rooting for her to go down another path.
Obviously, the subject of suicide is a hard one to deal with. No one wants to say anything negative about someone who decided to take their own life...least of all me. I've known a few people who decided to end it all -- none of them were close friends, but casual acquaintances. Someone I worked with or a friend of a friend, sort of thing. After seeing the wake such a decision leaves behind, I find more times than not that I react with anger. This book was no exception.
In the beginning, I was drawn forward with this need to know why she did it...why did she take her own life and choose to send these tapes? What was her motivation? Above all, I wanted to understand how a person gets to a point where death is the only way they see out.
By the end, I was SO angry with her. Not only because she cut off her own chance to live, but because she chose this particular method to explain her reasons. Through Clay, we are put into the shoes of someone on the receiving end of such a delivery. Just imagine if it were you. A girl sends these tapes, declaring YOU are one of the reasons she committed suicide. Whether it's founded or not, how do you recover and move past something like that? Imagine reliving certain encounters as seen through the eyes of this girl -- to learn what she needed from you in that moment and to hear you utterly failed her. Good gawd.
So yeah, that's why I didn't like her at the end of this book. Her 13th and final tape nearly made me sick. I didn't respect the way she left this world, and I didn't sympathize for her anymore. That may sound harsh and unfeeling, but don't confuse my caring about her and my respect (or lack thereof) for the way she chose to leave her mark on the world. I'm angry because I did start to care for her, and these tapes were nothing more than an accusing finger pointed at 13 people having varying degrees of awareness of their "guilt."
People aren't mindreaders. We all need to remember that. Talk to someone if you find yourself in this situation. From Mr. Asher's jacket cover:
I woke up thinking about this book today. So I won't deny it had a strong emotional impact on me. In fact, I'd be hardpressed to name a book in recent years that has impacted me this much. And for that, I applaud Asher. Because whether or not you are able to indentify with this girl, this book is amazing. That said, if you're looking for a light book to read...this ain't it. (g)
Buy or Rent? I'd buy.