Book Jacket Synopsis: “You can’t stop the future. You can’t rewind the past. The only way to learn the secret is to press play. Clay Jensen doesn’t want anything to do with the tapes Hannah Baker made. Hannah is dead. Her secrets should be buried with her. Then Hannah’s voice tells Clay that his name is on her tapes – and that he is, in some way, responsible for her death. All through the night, Clay keeps listening. He follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his small town, and what he discovers changes his life forever.”
Review: I first read Thirteen Reasons Why sometime in high school; I believe it was recommended to me by my best friend Olga. During my initial reading of the book and this subsequent one, I found it almost impossible to put Thirteen Reasons Why down. Despite the fact that it is abundantly clear that Hannah Baker is dead from the onset of the novel, I still found myself rooting for certain characters that had the potential to save her. It was as if, in spite of my knowledge of her unchangeable death, part of me still thought there was a chance her suicide could be reversed. But, as stated in the book jacket synopsis, you can’t stop the future and you certainly can’t rewind the past. Altogether, Thirteen Reasons Why is a really creative, poignant debut novel from Jay Asher. Without a doubt, this novel has likely helped many teenagers better understand the impact that their actions, no matter how small, can have on other people. This isn’t necessarily a book I want to read again, given the heavy content, but I do believe that it should be included in high school reading curriculum.
Reason for Ban/Challenge: Thirteen Reasons Why was the third most frequently challenged book in 2012, according to the American Library Association. Reasons for bans and challenges largely focus on the fact the book references drugs, alcohol, smoking, sexually explicit situations, and suicide. Overall, many parents contend that the book is unsuited for the targeted age group. However, one only has to look at the reader reviews on Jay Asher’s official website for Thirteen Reasons Why (http://www.thirteenreasonswhy.com/) to understand that this “explicit” content itself that is having a profound, positive impact on young readers. Indeed, Asher is using the popularity of Thirteen Reasons Why to inspire teenagers to stand up against bullying. As one reader noted:
“Hannah’s story changed Clay’s life. It has the power to change many more.” –Lauren