13 Reasons Why
Bullying by students and the stigma of suicide are themes in the novel Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. New to town, Hannah Baker hopes to have a new life. Unfortunately, rumors, betrayal, and revenge by her peers affect Hannah's life more than anyone knows. Though Hannah tries to reveal her pain to others, neither the school guidance counselor nor other students recognize her cries for help. Before committing suicide, Hannah records a collection of audiotapes explaining the actions which she believes pushed her to make the decision to take her own life.
Clay Jensen, who had liked Hannah despite rumors he had heard about the new girl, is one of thirteen people who receives Hannah’s audio suicide letter. He is shocked to learn how unfounded the rumors about Hannah being a slut were as they originated from one boy who was angry with her for not giving him more than a kiss. As Clay continues to listen to Hannah’s tapes, he becomes angrier and angrier with the way other students have treated Hannah. He is also upset with himself for not doing more to let Hannah know that he liked her. The novel ends with a note of hope as Clay steps out to befriend a girl whom he’d always liked but never approached because of her reputation of being strange.
This novel addresses issues facing modern students. Although she is not physically abused, Hannah is a victim of bullying. Like many students recently, Hannah feels the only way to solve her problems and stop the hurt is to take her own self out of the equation. Hannah leaves audiotapes behind, telling those who persecuted her about the exact impact that they had on her life. Clay believes some of the people included in the tapes may interpret the tapes only as Hannah’s way of blaming everyone else for her problems. Some good comes from Hannah’s story as Clay decides to take an active role in helping those around him.
Clay is our main man here, our narrator and guide through the frightening world of Hannah Baker's last hours. Much of the action in this story takes place in Clay's head, which means we have some pretty good insight into his character.
In the package, there are a total of seven cassette tapes and thirteen stories. On the first tape, Hannah tells her listeners that she holds each of them responsible in some way for her death, and that the tapes will explain why. After listening, each person must give the tapes to the next person on the list. She says that if anybody fails to pass them along, a copy of the recordings will be made public. The tapes also come with a map that listeners are meant to physically follow as they listen to her story.
We can almost hear Hannah's voice as we read her last words, recorded on seven cassette tapes the night before her suicide. Even though she makes us uncomfortable (as intended), we can't help but feel for her, especially once we've heard all she has to say